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By: Jean During



Gaval, is the most widespread percussion instrument in the former Iranian province of Arran (today known as Republic of Azerbaijan), played as much in artistic as in popular music and professional ensembles. It is also used in Armenia and the Azerbaijan province.


Gâvâl is made up of a circular wooden frame of a diameter of thirty-eight centimeters on which catfish or, failing that, goat skin is stretched. In modern times, the use of synthetic skin, more resistant to humidity, but less appreciated, is also common. The frame is made of various kinds of wood, such as walnut, acacia, vine, and mulberry. Much care is often applied in the manufacture of gâvâl; its wooden frame is usually covered with mother of pearl and black horn and several metal rings are placed on the inner side of the frame acting as bells. Traditionally, the male or female singers (classical or popular) accompany themselves by playing the instrument, but there are also specialized soloists, especially in the bard groups âšeq (q.v.) as well as bands of oboe players (sûrnâ). Ghâvâl is sometimes replaced by a two-sided drum called naqqâra, which is played a bit like daf only on one side, but held on the knees.

The gâvâl playing techniques can be quite sophisticated requiring the use of all the fingers. In mainland Iran, however, the technique is simpler. Ghâvâl is used to accompany âšeq bards, but rarely in Persian art music.



A. Rahmatov, Azarbaijan khalg chalghi alatlari, Baku, 1980.




Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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