Gijak

The musical instrument of Central Asian peoples

 

Gijak (gidjak) is a stringed instrument played with a bow, traditional for the Uzbeks, Tajik, Karakalpaks, Turkmens and Uighurs. Gijak is very close in structure to the Persian kamancheh (also kamānche or kamāncha), which is a traditional musical instrument for Azerbaijan, Iran and Armenia.

Traditional musical instruments tend to retain all the philosophy and wisdom that has been accumulated by a people during many centuries. Gijak is used to perform traditional music and songs, instrumental pieces and makom (cyclic compositions characterised by the prevalence of lamenting intonations in singing and playing). Gijak and its variations form, together with other traditional instruments, traditional Uzbek instrumental ensembles.

Gijak has a spherical body made traditionally of pumpkin of a special kind, wood or other material (for instance, the shell of a large coconut) with a skin stretched over its top. The size of the instrument varies and often depends on the material it is made of.

Modern gijak has four strings, although their number would change in the course of history, most often being equal to three. In former times the strings of gijak were made of silk, while today they are mostly metal.

According to a common belief, gijak was invented in the 11th century by Avicenna (Abu Ali ibn-Sina), the great Persian scholar, physician and philosopher, who formed the principles of the study of musical instruments, classifying and giving descriptions of almost all instruments that existed at the time.

The classical way of playing the gijak is to place the instrument vertically and to produce sounds with a special short bent bow, although modern performers often use the violin bow.

There are virtuosi who can embellish traditional classical music with incredibly bright impromptu passages. In the video below you can see and hear gijak and listen to Uzbek virtuoso Farkhodjon Gapparov playing the instrument (Piece title: Storm. Composer: Bijan Mortazavi, Iran):

 
 

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