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The Tar: Azerbaijan's musical heritage


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The Tar: Azerbaijan's musical heritage

When silent it’s a figure of 8: when played it symbolises infinity. It’s called a “tar”; it comes from the same family as the lute; and its double heart is linked to millions of others.

For euronews, Aurora Velez#! reports that, with its 11 strings, the Azeri tar’s musical range makes it the most popular instrument in the Caucasus. She learnt more about it from an Azeri specialist instrument-maker.

Key facts about Azerbaijan

  • Azerbaijan is a country in the South Caucasus region, between Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe.
  • The Azerbaijan Republic declared its independence in 1918 before being incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920. The modern republic declared its independence in 1991.
  • Its capital city is Baku
  • With a population of nearly 10 million, it covers an area of 86,600 square kilometres.

Mahir Valadov told her:

We use three types of wood for the tar: walnut for the neck, and hazel for the pegs, mulberry for the body, which is coated in a material made from cows’ heart.

Tars are made solely by hand, using specific techniques, often passed down through generations of the same families.

Formerly they had just five or six strings: by the nineteenth century they had 11.

Five years’ ago, the art of making and playing the tar was added to UNESCO’s representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity

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