Face Music - Traditional Instruments - Altai people

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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016


a two-stringed instrument similar to a lutes of Tuva, Mongolia, or Kazakhstan. The body and the neck are carved from cedar wood and the body is often covered with the leather of wild animals, camels, or goats. The strings are wound from horse-tails and tuned to an interval of a fourth.

- a stringed instrument similar to the topshur but with a longer neck, the strings are wound from the sinews of deer or mountain sheep and it is played with a bow made of willow, with a horse tail bow-string coated with larch or cedar wood resin.

- a wind instrument like an elongated flute like those of the Bashkirs and the Caucasians. It is basically a long, smooth, hollow pipe 70 cm long.


- also a wind instrument, produced by modern master-craftsmen out of clay and fired in a kiln like ceramics.

- a jew's harp made of brass or steel nowadays, but in earlier days of wood. A spring, acting as a vibrator, is fitted into a horseshoe shaped metal holder and is called the tongue. The player places the long part of the instrument against his mouth, touching it with his front teeth and manipulates the tongue with his right hand. The pitch can be varied by changing the shape of the mouth cavity, which at the same time acts as a resonance chamber.

- a wind instrument used for coaxing wild deer and made of birch bark.

- a similar wind instrument used for coaxing Siberian deer.

- a wind instrument made from sheep's bones.

- a similar wind instrument to the shoor but with holes on the side and made of wood, only about 30 to 40 cm long.

- a kind of rattle.

- map sketch Gorno-Altaisk