The zurna, zourna, Zorn, zurla, zokra, surnay, surnai, Zamri, or Zamour mizmar, is a wind instrument double reed of the great family of oboe whose origins date back to the eighth century. It takes its name from the Persian زورنه (zur: festival, horn or force and ney: reed). In North Africa, it also receives the following designations algaita, Ghait, rajta, rhaita, etc..

The zurna spread all over under Muslim domination, including Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, the Maghreb, Niger, Greece (also pipiza and karamouza) and the Balkans. Many variations exist elsewhere in the Far East, Central Asia and South-East and India.

At the Ottoman period, because of its power, this instrument was used in military music janissary the mehters.

The zurna is made of mulberry wood, boxwood or apricot. The bore is cylindrical for the top, tapered to the flag and recalls its ancestor, the Horn. It has eight holes (one for the thumb and agree). A small tube is inserted wood split in the main conduit to guide air and in order to plug some holes eventually. The double reed removable bent reed shall be a metal, which itself is set on a puck protective bronze.

It exists in three different sizes from 22 to 60 cm which are sometimes played simultaneously in different countries. Often the body of the instrument is decorated with appliques and other metal pendants.

The zurna is played standing up, often with the technique of continuous breath. She has a record of one octave and a half, and the agreement is diatonic, the accuracy of the game, even more problematic than oriental music uses quarter tones, depends heavily on the competence of the musician. It must constantly adjust the pitch of notes by varying the pressure of breath and lips on the reed.

It is used in popular music, traditional drum duet with Davulis, or daoulas toupan, and usually performed outdoors during the holidays, marriages and struggles in the Middle East and North Africa.

However, the advent of amplification allowed him to be associated with other instruments of much lesser power such as the saz, as in the Trakya All Stars Turkish percussionist Burhan Öçal.

Read also Erhu


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