Most common types of baglama used in Turkey

Types of baglama used in Turkey

One of the most common types of baglama used in Turkey today is the divan, the largest of the family in terms of both body size and fingerboard length. It is generally played in a plain, unornamented style, and is used for playing at low pitch. It has seven strings in three groups.

Another is the tambura, the modern version of the dombra, a two stringed Kazakh and Kirghiz instrument. Its body is the same size as that of a baglama with a short fingerboard, but it is played like the long fingerboard baglama. Like the divan it has three groups of seven strings.

The short fingerboard baglama is that regarded as sacred by the Alevi and Bektasi sects, and with the long fingerboard baglama is the most common type in Turkey today. The long fingerboard baglama is known as the bozuk in vernacular Turkish and has more frets. Both types have seven strings in three groups.

Electro SazThe smallest of the baglama family, the cura, has a small body and short fingerboard. It is played like the long and short fingerboard baglama, but has only six strings in three groups.

Apart from these types there are many regional variations, most largely forgotten today. The best known among these are the three stringed baglama of the Teke region played by the famous baglama player Ramazan Gungor, and the two stringed cura (like tanbur from Iran) played by Asik Nesimi Cimen. Occasionally these instruments are used to lend colour in recordings of Turkish music.

If a single instrument were to represent Turkish folk music it would have to be the baglama. There is no region, no village in Anatolia which is not familiar with this string instrument. It is descended from the kopuz, which is frequently mentioned in the sagas of Dede Korkut dating from around the 8th century.
The kopuz differs from the baglama in having a leather covered body, a fingerboard without frets, and two or three strings made either of horsehair, or of sheep or wolf gut. It is played by beating with the fingers, rather than being plucked with a plectrum.
Alevi and Bektasi dervishes and the baglama
Like its ancestor the kopuz, the Turkmens of Anatolia attached sacred significance to the baglama, and the religious ceremonies of the Alevi and Bektasi sects begin by kissing the baglama and touching it to the head before beginning to play the hymns which made up a large part of the ritual.
One of the most common types of baglama used in Turkey today is the divan, the largest of the family in terms of both body size and fingerboard length. It is generally played in a plain, unornamented style, and is used for playing at low pitch. It has seven strings in three groups.
Baglamas are tuned differently in every part of Turkey, and the structure of the folk song to be played and the strokes of the plectrum affect the tuning system.
Electric baglamas began to be made in the late 1960s to increase the sound volume and enable it to be used in rock music. Structurally similar to the original instrument, these have electroguitar pickups fitted into the body.