Type: Aerophones > Open-Ended > Flutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs. No#: 421.111.12
Country: Many, Bulgaria, Turkey & Armenia.
Region: Balkans & South Eastern Europe.
Description: The kaval is a chromatic open-ended flute traditionally played throughout the Balkans, The kaval is primarily associated with mountain shepherds. The kaval has 8 playing holes; 7 finger-holes in front and 1 in the back for the thumb and usually four more un-fingered intonation holes near the bottom of the kaval.
The kaval can be made in various tunings, 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 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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