Self – sounding instruments

As known, self-sounding instruments (idiophones) are the instruments in which the source of oscillation is the body or its part, but not strings, membrane or air pressure. To such instruments in Kyrgyz musical culture concern so called lip (mouth) komuz of several kinds, tambourines, bells and the other instruments making cracking sounds. In this group of the instruments, more then in others, presents the natural beginning. Before the human life depended on the surrounding environment and such musical instruments were used not only as the sources of music, but also as amulets, periapts, attributes of ammunition, equipment, costumes. By the same reasons them were attributed some magic features. The instruments also were widely used in customs and traditions.

Most of this instruments were made of metal or had metallic parts in its constructions. The metal parts were done by "Temir Usta" – metal foremen and blacksmiths, whose main occupation was production of agricultural tools, home utensils and horse harnesses.

Temir o’oz komuz – (shortly Temir Komuz or O’oz komuz, from "temir"-metallic and "o’oz"- mouth) is the metallic lips (mouth) nipping instrument. It has arch-shaped body with the length of 6-7 sm., stretched in the middle and narrowed at the end. Temir komuz was made of iron, brass, bronze or cooper (djez komuz). The components of the instrument are pan (chara in Kyrgyz), to it adjoin cone-shaped fork (djaak) and thin elastic steel string (til), one end of the tongue soldered to the lower part of the pan, and another one bend perpendicularly under right angle. Timbre of the instrument is mild, silvery, with airy flageolet shade.

Performers on Temir komuz called "temir komuzchu" or "o’oz komuzchu". Traditional performers were women and children, but after 1930, it became more popular among the males.

Temir komuz – is one of the most ancient instruments. It is known in every corner of Kyrgyzstan . It also has the "relatives" (around 800 kinds) in other countries of the world. In Russia , it is called Vargan, in Germany – Maultrommel, in Italy Scaccia-pensieri, in France – Guimbarde, in Spain – Birimbao, in Ukrainia – Drymba, in Moldavia – Drombule, in Kazakhstan – Shan kabyz, in Uzbekistan – changkobuz etc.

Play on Temir komuz – is the fingering of overtones in a spectrum (raised by a finger) of the metal string – regulating by forms and value of resonance area of the mouth, where the performers place the instrument holding it with the teeth. Certain position of performing apparatus corresponds to every sound, including: lips, mouth, larynx and lungs. That is why very often phonemes of Kyrgyz language are heard in sounds of Temir Komuz.

Pitching the string (pizzicato) is usually performed by forefinger of the right hand, rarely by middle or thumb. Doing this, performer can make effective figured hand movements, making impression on audience.

Djigach o’oz komuz – (wooden lip or mouth komuz) – the closest variety of Temir o’oz komuz widely spread on South of Kyrgyzstan. Djigach o’oz komuz is a wooden plate with the narrowed end. The length of the instrument in its varieties is from 13 to 20 sm., the width of the narrow part is about 1 sm., wide part – 2 sm. For the string serves vibrating thin plate cut from the instrument’s body. For production of Djigach o’oz komuz was used barberry or honeysuckle wood.

Before the play, Djigach o’oz komuz is pressed to the mouth by the left hand. Instrument is placed between the lips, by the movements of which regulates resonance area of the mouth according to high pitches parameters of strum. The right hand strongly and clearly pulls the string with the help of 30 sm., long thread fastened to its right end. Oscillation of the string gives the sound that becomes stronger due to the aerial resonance of the mouth. As the sound of this instrument quickly fades (wood is not so elastic as steel string), for tunes of djigach o’oz komuz typical the liveliness sound.

Usually Djigach o’oz komuz is played by women, but nowadays it became more popular among men.
Timbre of djigach o’oz komuz is less clear then timbre of temir komuz, but deep.

Djylaajyn – is one of the hardly met instruments. It is the idiophone representing small single or double tambourine shaking for playing. Inside the instrument there is a small metallic ball. Diameter of the instrument is 2-3 sm.

Djylaajyn was mainly used in everyday life: from one side as musical instrument and as signal instrument from another. It informed the hunter about the present location of his hunting eagle or hawk with the prey. It was fastened to the bird’s foot, and helped the hunter to take his bearings in mountain forest or in bushes. Sometimes the instrument was used for decoration women’s head-dress or plaits. It used to be widely spread thanks to its high-pitched, silvery and attractive sound, which however quickly fades.

For producing djylaajyn Kyrgyz foremen used iron, cooper, bronze and very often silver which they counted as the best material for that instrument. With changing of social conditions and evolution of mode of life, traditional djylaajyn became very rare.

Konguro’o – is a small bell, which as well as Djalaajyn firstly had the utilitarian purposes and only after artistic ones. Konguro’o sounded by the time of moving to the new places, being fastened to the horse harness it created very specific "smart" sound background. Konguro’o also hanged on the neck of leader goat, which leads the flock of sheep in some definite direction. That is why in folk memory almost magic sound of konguro’o was associated with nomadic mode of life.

To make this instrument Kyrgyz foremen used cooper, bronze, iron and brass. They also decorated it with artistic carving and covered with silver. Sizes of the instruments might vary in considerable limits, what depended on its function. Every bell had its own timbre.

Shaldyrak – the rattle, consisted of metallic bar (diameter 1,5 sm., length 43 sm.) with a handle, three big iron rings of different diameter (around 8 sm.) and small rings (diameter 2,8 sm.), stringed on big ones. The sound was extracting while shaking the rattle. This rhythmically-noisy idiophone used to be widely spread all over Kyrgyzstan , but nowadays hardly can be seen anywhere except the museums.

Asa-Tayak (Asa-Musa) – braced or stick idiophone. The source of the sound here are the various pendants – self-sounding bodies which set in motion by striking the instrument on the ground, floor, or while shaking.

Traditional Asa-Tayak – is the wooden stick of irregular shape with the length of 50 sm. In its upper part are fixed various self-sounding bodies and decorations – metallic disks with diameter of 3 sm., buttons, lamb bones (used for games), wooden bars, scraps of fabric, horse hairs. Asa-Tayak concerns as mixed idiophone. For Kyrgyz Shamans (bakshi) and dervishes (duvana) Asa-Tayak served as the tool with the help of which they carried out their curative seances. Magic influence of the sounds on the mind of sick person conditioned, apparently, not only by sounds but also by the whole complex of actions of shaman.

Dilderek – also very rare metallic idiophone, consisted of two round plates with diameter of 5-7 sm., and width of 1 mm. Dilderek was fastened on the neck of goats, sheep or cows in signal purposes. Plates stroked due to the wind or moving of animal and utter slight sound. That instrument carried not only artistic or musical functions but also it served as amulet, protected the cattle from accidents and diseases.

Zu’uldak – is more musical toy then an instrument. Before it was produced from the stalk of cane, to-day is used wooden detail or button. It untwist on two weaken 20-30 sm., sewing in one side and then on stretched ones in another side. The sound lasting a few seconds, remind hissing or hum.

Kyrgyz national musical tooling vary by constructive features and by artistic abilities. Scientists distinguish four types of the instruments having originality of social, esthetic and practice functions. It is significant that in modern folk instrumental practice goes visible process of developing musical instruments on the one hand, by the way of keeping main principles of national traditions, and on the another hand by the way of refreshing constructions of musical instruments and its expressiveness.