Name: Kaval.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Open-Ended.
Hornbostel-Sachs. No#: 421.111.12
Country: Many, Bulgaria, Turkey & Armenia.
Region: Balkans & South Eastern Europe.

Description: The kaval [in Bulgarian: Кавал] is a chromatic open-ended flute traditionally played throughout the Balkans, it is found in Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Greece, Anatolia including Turkey and Armenia.

The kaval is primarily associated with mountain shepherds. The kaval has a total of 8 playing holes that are equidistantly spaced. Seven finger-holes are drilled into the top, one thumb hole on the bottom of the kaval near the bevel. There is usually four more un-fingered intonation holes near the bottom of the kaval.

Tunings: The kaval can be made in various tunings, although D being the most common. In the south-west Rhodope mountains, two kavals in the same tuning [called chifte kavali] are played together, one performing the melody, the other a drone. This type of kaval is made from one piece of wood.

A similar use of the kaval is also known in Macedonia and Kosovo, where one kaval of the pair usually a lower one of a same key is ‘male’, the other kaval played as a drone is ‘female’.

Construction: While typically made of wood [cornel cherry, apricot, plum, boxwood, mountain ash, etc], kavals are also made from water buffalo horn, Arundo donax L. [Persian reed], metal and plastic. The Bulgarian kaval, once made of a single piece of wood, is now constructed of three separate sections of cornel, walnut, plum or boxwood, with a total length of 60 cm to 90 cm.

Bone rings cover the joints, to prevent the wood from cracking. Metal decoration is also found. The finger-holes are located in the central section, while the lower [shorter] section has four additional holes called dushnitsi or dyavolski dupki [‘devil’s holes’]; these are not covered in performance.

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