Name: Tamburica.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Croatia & Hungary.
Region: Balkans > South Eastern Europe.

Description: The tamburica or [in Serbo-Croatian & Macedonian Тамбурица tamburica] meaning “Little tamboura” ; in Hungarian: tambura; in Greek: Ταμπουράς, in Slovenian: tamburrizza] is a lute that is played in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia and Hungary. Throughout the 19th century the tamburica became popular in Slavonia and Vojvodina.

Tamburica Tunings
Names Strings Family Tunings
Prim E 8 Strings Bisernica
Prim D 8 Strings Bisernica D F# A D
Prim G 8 Strings Bisernica G D A E
Bas-prim Brač G D A E
Čelović 4 Strings Čelović E A D G
Čelović 5 or 6 String Čelović D G C G
Bugarija Kontra G B D G
Bugarija Kontra D F# A D
Bugarija Kontra E G B E
Čelo / cselló Čelo / Cselló
Bas Berda / Begeš

History: The tamburica was introduced by the Ottoman Turks in the 14th century and 15th centuries. The oldest written documentation of the tamburica is dated to 1551. It was described in the travel documents written by N. Nicolaja, a French consul in Turkey. The ancestry of the tamburica can be traced back to the tambura – a lute from Mesopotamia.

There is little reliable data showing the migration pattern of the tambura as it entered Central Europe. It already existed during Byzantine Empire and the Greeks and Slavs used to call “pandouras” [see pandoura] or “tambouras” the ancestor of modern bouzouki. The instrument was referred to as θαμπούριν, thambourin in the Byzantine Empire [confer Digenis Akritas, Escorial version, vv. 826-827, ed. and translation by. Elizabeth Jeffrey].

Construction: The body of the tamburica is hollowed from from pear or oak. Sometimes the body may also be made from tortoise shells. Originally the neck and body would be carved from the same piece of wood. Recently the body is made from separate pieces of wood, neck, body and head stock.

The body is covered with a sound board which is usually smoked, fir or oak also called the hangover [tahta]. The upper part of the hardwood washer was not to be damaged by the hoof. Approximately sometimes 8 to 24 sound holes are drilled into the soundboard. A fingerboard with frets is installed near the finishing of the instrument. Machine gear tuners from four, six or eight strings are added depending on their role in the tamburica orchestra.

Citations: Bibliography: March, Richard The Tamburitza Tradition: From the Balkans to the American Midwest. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299296032 ; Elizabeth Jeffreys, John Haldon, Robin Cormack, The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 928 Nikos Maliaras, Byzantina mousika organa, EPN 1023, ISBN 978-960-7554-44-4 ; Andrić, Josip: »Tambura«, in: Kovačević, K. [ur.], Music Encyclopedia , Zagreb : JLZ , 1977, vol. 3, p. 542-543, p. 544-545; Andrić, Josip: » Tamburksi Zbor [Orkestar] ; Websites: tambura.com.hr


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