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For other uses of this term, including another kind of musical instrument, see tar .


The tār ( ) is a long-necked, waisted Azerbaijani instrument . It has been adopted by other cultures and countries like Azerbaijanmarker, Georgiamarker, and other areas near the Caucasus region. The word tar ( تار') itself means "string" in Persian. This is claimed to be the root of the names of the Persian setar and the guitar as well as less widespread instruments such as the dutar and the Indian sitar. The exact place of origin of the tar cannot be confirmed. However, the tar was invented in the territories of, or influenced by, the Persian Empire: Persia (Iran), Afghanistan, and parts of the former Soviet republics, such as Armenia and Georgia.

Tar is one of the most important Iranian/Persian musical instruments. The formation, compilation, edition, and inheritance of the most authentic and most comprehensive versions of radif are all worked on tar. The general trends of Persian classical music have been deeply influenced by tar players.

Physical characteristics

Iranian Tar.

The tar appeared in its present form in the middle of the eighteenth century in Persia. The body is a double-bowl shape carved from mulberry wood, with a thin membrane of stretched lamb-skin covering the top.

The fingerboard has twenty-five to twenty-eight adjustable gut frets, and there are three double courses of string. Its range is about two and one-half octaves, and it is played with a small brass plectrum.

The long and narrow neck has a flat fingerboard running level to the membrane and ends in an elaborate pegbox with six wooden tuning pegs of different dimensions, adding to the decorative effect. It has three courses of double "singing" strings (each pair tuned in unison: the first two courses in plain steel, the third in wound copper), that are tuned in fourths (C, G, C) plus one "flying" bass string (wound in copper and tuned in G, an octave lower than the singing middle course) that runs outside the fingerboard and passes over an extension of the nut. There are also two pairs of shorter sympathetic strings that run under the bass and over two small copper bridges about midway on the upper side of the fingerboard: their tuning is variable according to the piece to be played and with the performer's tastes: Every String has its own tuning peg and are tuned independentlyThe Persian tar used to have five strings. The sixth string was added to the tar by Darvish Khan. This string is today's fifth string of the Iranian tar. The Azerbaijani tar, designed by Sadigjan, has a slightly different build and has more strings. It is an essential component of the traditional Azeri mugham trio (see Sazanda).

Music therapy

The melodies performed on tar were considered useful for headache, insomnia and melancholy, as well as for eliminating nervous and muscle spasms. Listening to this instrument was believed to induce a quiet and philosophical mood, compelling the listener to reflect upon life. Its solemn melodies were thought to cause a person to relax and fall asleep.

The author of Qabusnama (11th century) recommends that when selecting musical tones (perde), to take into account the temperament of the listener (see Four temperaments). He suggested that lower pitched tones (bem) were effective for persons of sanguine and phlegmatic temperaments, while higher pitched tones (zil) were helpful for those who were identified with a choleric temperament or melancholic temperament.

Use in contemporary music

The tar features prominently in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, in the section "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray". George Fenton played it on the original album, and Gaetan Schurrer can be seen playing one on the DVD of the 2006 production.

Tar in Azerbaijan

A tar is depicted on the obverse of the Azerbaijani 1 manat banknote issued since 2006

Some old masters and contemporary tar players

See also


External links

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