Saz (Baglama)
Turkish baglamaThe bağlama is a stringed musical instrument shared by various cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean. In Turkish bağlamak means 'to tie,' a reference to the tied-on frets of the instrument. Like most stringed instruments, it can either be played with a plectrum (i.e., pick), or with a fingerpicking style known as şelpe.

Turkish bağlama

The bağlama, sometimes referred to as saz or a member of saz family, is a Turkish instrument and the fundamental instrument in Turkish folk music. Its name literally translates to "something that is tied up".

The bağlama is a string instrument consisting of 7 strings divided into groups of 2, 2 and 3. These groups of strings can be tuned to different combinations, each corresponding to a different system.

The bağlama is believed to be a synthesis of historical musical instruments in Central Asia and pre-Turkish Anatolia. Bağlama is the most commonly used string folk instrument in Turkey. It takes different names according to the regions and according to its size such as Bağlama, Divan Sazı, Bozuk, Çöğür, Kopuz Irızva, Cura, Tambura, etc.

The cura is the smallest member of the bağlama family with the highest pitched sound. One size larger than the cura is the tambura, which is tuned an octave lower than the cura. The Divan sazı is the largest instrument in the bağlama family, and is tuned one octave lower than the tambura. The bağlama has three main parts called Tekne(the bowl), Göğüs(sounding board) and Sap(neck). The tekne is generally made from mulberry wood, but may also be made of juniper, beech, spruce or walnut. The göğüs is made from spruce and the sap section from beech or juniper. The tuning pegs are known as burgu (literally screw). Frets are tied to the tekne with fishing line, which allows them to be adjusted. The bağlama is usually played with a Tezene, which is similar to a Guitar pick) and is made from cherry wood bark or plastic. In some regions, it is played with the fingers in a style known as Şelpe or Şerpe. There are three string groups, or courses, on the bağlama, with strings double or tripled. These string groups can be tuned in a variety of ways, known asDüzen. For the Bağlama Düzeni, the most common tuning, the courses are tuned, from top downward, A-G-D . Some other düzens are Kara Düzen (C-G-D), Misket Düzeni (A-D-F), Müstezat (A-D-F), Abdal Düzeni, Rast Düzeni. There are also electric baglamas which can be connected to an amplifier. These can have either single or double pickups.

The kopuz and the baglama

The kopuz or komuz 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.

The Turkish settlement of Anatolia from the late 10th century onwards saw the introduction of a two-string Turkmen dutar, which was still being played in some areas of Turkey until recent times. According to the historian Hammer, metal strings were first used on a type of kopuz with a long fingerboard known as the kolca kopuz in 15th century Anatolia. This marked the first step in the emergence of the çöğür (cogur), a transitional instrument between the kopuz and the baglama. According to the 17th century writer Evliya Celebi, the cogur was first made in the city of Kütahya in western Turkey. To take the strain of the metal strings the leather body was replaced by wood, the fingerboard lengthened and frets introduced. Instead of five hair strings there were now twelve metal strings arranged in four groups of three. Today the cogur is smaller than a medium sized baglama.

Meanwhile the five string kopuz is thought to have been transformed into the six string instrument known as the sestar or seshane by the 13th century mystic Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi. The word sestar is also mentioned in the poems of the 14th century poet Yunus Emre. Evliya Celebi describes the kopuz as a smaller version of the seshane.

The word baglama is first used in 18th century texts. The French traveler Jean Benjamin de Laborde, who visited Turkey during that century, recorded that "the baglama or tambura is in form exactly like the cogur but smaller". He was probably referring to the smallest of the baglama family, the cura.