Daf – ancient Azerbaijani musical instrument, essential element of Mugham trio

Baku, March 18, AZERTAC

Daf is an ancient Azerbaijani musical instrument, and essential element of Mugham, which is a traditional musical genre that expresses complex ideas, emotional meaning, deep and comprehensive thinking, artistic excitement and the development of various musical characters.

As a percussion instrument, daf has occupied a special place in Azerbaijan’s national musical culture.

Medieval musical gatherings (majlis) could never have been imagined without the daf.

Famous Azerbaijani poet Khagani wrote: “Look at the daf player and you will see the excitement of the hunt. The daf is like a hunting ground where one is fighting with another.”

The medieval miniatures that depict palace musical gatherings show the daf as being part of instrumental ensembles such as the chang-ney-daf, the barbat-changney-daf and the ney-tanbur-daf.

The daf features pairs of copper cups on four sides of the body, with the rims facing each together. This provides the instrument with the timbre of an idio-membranophone. Today, however, this instrument is rarely used. Its sturgeon skin membrane is stretched over a round frame made of nut wood. The diameter is 250-260 mm, and the height is 45-50 mm.

Like other percussion instruments such as the naghara, gosha naghara, gaval and other percussion instruments, the Laggutu is widely used in modern ensembles and orchestras of national instruments. The laggutu is used mainly in the musical folklore of the southern regions of Azerbaijan: Astara, Lankaran, Masalli and Jalilabad.

The laggutu is placed on a platform, and the performer plays it with two wooden sticks. Usually, the laggutu is 250x125x50 mm in size and made of walnut, apricot, mulberry or beech wood. The instrument is hewn out in a special way: the upper part is hewn deeper than the lower part, which gives a special timbre to the instrument. The etymology of the name of the instrument is probably related to its timbre.

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