Zurna is a woodwind musical instrument of ancient origin, widely used among the people of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Like duduk, zurna is played in Armenian folk music and it has deep roots in the traditional culture of Armenia.
Zurna is closely related to the conical oboe, made of apricot wood, and has the same double reed, which generates a sharp, piercing, nasal sound and is considered one of its predecessors. It has 8 holes on the front, 7 of which are used while playing, and 1 thumbhole that provides a range of one octave.
A musician who plays the zurna is called zurnachi. The Armenian zurna is most commonly played in pairs, with one musician playing the lead melody and the other playing a continual drone note (called the “dam”) that is held by circular breathing, which involves inhaling through the nose and storing the air in puffed up cheeks while maintaining lip pressure on the reed.
Zurna is almost always accompanied by the dhol (double sided Armenian drum). In general, zurna accompanies festivities and important events, and still has an important place in the musical culture and can be heard at weddings and festivals throughout Armenia.
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