Name: Veenu.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The veenu [in Sanskrit: वेणु; veṇu] in the Dravidian languages this flute is known by many names including [in Tamil புல்லாங்குழல் ; pullankuzhal], [in Malayalam: പുല്ലാങ്കുഴല് ; pullāṅkuḻal], [in Kannada: ಕೊಳಲು ; Kolalu], [in Telugu: పిల్లన గ్రోవి pillana grōvi or వేణువు Vēṇuvu].

The veenu is one of the ancient transverse [side blown]  flutes of Indian classical music. It is an aerophone typically made from bamboo. The veenu continues to be in use in the South Indian Carnatic music tradition.

History: The venu is discussed as an important musical instrument in the Natya Shastra, the classic Hindu text on music and performance arts. The ancient Sanskrit texts of India describe other side blown flutes such as the murali and vamsika, but sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. The venu is mentioned in the iconography of Hindu god Krishna.

Playing Techniques: Circular breathing is used when playing the venu as with numerous other Indian flute or single reed instruments.

Citations: Bibliography: Lochtefeld 2002, p. 747 ; Bruno Nettl; Thomas Turino; Isabel Wong; et al. 2015. Excursions in World Music. Taylor & Francis. p. 691. ISBN 978-1-317-35029-3. Dalal 2014, p. 163. Rowell 2015, pp. 99–103. The Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu of Rūpa Gosvāmin; Motilal Banarsidass. 2003. p. 217. ISBN 978-81-208-1861-3. Tarla Mehta 1995. Sanskrit Play Production in Ancient India. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-81-208-1057-0.

Beck, Guy 1993. Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-87249-855-6. Caudhurī, Vimalakānta Rôya 2000. The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1708-1. Dalal, Roshen 2014. Northern Indian Music, Volume 1. Theory & technique; Volume 2. The main rāgǎs. London: C. Johnson. OCLC 851080. Gautam, M.R. 1993 – Evolution of Raga and Tala in Indian Music. Munshiram Manoharlal. ISBN 81-215-0442-2. Kaufmann, Walter 1968. The Ragas of North India. Oxford & Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34780-0. OCLC 11369. Lochtefeld, James G. 2002. ISBN 978-0-8239-2287-1. Martinez, José Luiz 2001. Semiosis in Hindustani Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1801-9. Nettl, Bruno; Ruth M. Stone; James Porter; Timothy Rice 1998, The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia : the Indian subcontinent ; Routledge, ISBN 978-0-8240-4946-1 Randel, Rowell, Lewis 2015. Music and Musical Thought in Early India. University of Chicago Press ; ISBN 978-0-226-73034-9 ; Neil Sorrell ; Ram Narayan 1980. Indian Music in Performance: A Practical Introduction. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-0756-9 – Te Nijenhuis, Emmie 1974 ; Indian Music: History and Structure – BRILL Academic ; ISBN 90-04-03978-3. Wilke, Annette; Moebus, Oliver 2011. Sound and Communication: An Aesthetic Cultural History of Sanskrit Hinduism. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-024003-0 ;


Name: Bansuri.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The bansuri is a side blown flute from South Asia found in many parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. It is one of the most common instruments in the North Indian or Hindustani classical music.

A similar flute is called venu is played in South Indian or Carnatic classical tradition. It is referred to as nadi or tunava in the Rigveda and other Vedic texts of Hinduism. Its importance and operation is discussed in the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra.

Etymology: The word bansuri originates in the bans [बाँस] [bamboo] + sur [सुर] [melody]. A phonetically similar same for the same instrument, in early medieval texts, is the Sanskrit word vamsi which is derived from root vamsa [Sanskrit: [वंश] meaning bamboo. A flute player in these medieval texts is called vamsika.

Other regional names of bansuri-style, six to eight play holes, bamboo flutes in India include bansi, eloo, kulal, kulalu, kukhl, lingbufeniam, murali [Rajasthan], murli, nadi, nar [Rajasthan], pawa, pullankuzhal, pillana grovi, pulangoil, vansi, vasdanda and venuvu. In central and south India, a similar flute is called nagoza or mattiyaan jodi and Buddhist stupa reliefs in central India, from about the 1st century BCE, depict the single and twinned flute designs.

In Iconography: The bansuri-like flute is depicted in ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temple paintings and reliefs, as well as is common in the iconography of the Hindu god Krishna. It is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha.

The bansuri is revered as Lord Krishna’s divine instrument and is often associated with Krishna’s Rasa lila dance. These legends sometimes use alternate names for this wind instrument, such as the murali.

However, the instrument is also common among other traditions such as Shivaism. The early medieval Indian texts also refer to it as vamshi, while in medieval Indonesian Hindu and Buddhist arts, as well as temple carvings in Java and Bali dated to be from pre-10th century period, in China this transverse flute has been called wangsi or bangsi.

Playing Techniques: The musician creates the notes while their finger pads cover the finger-hole. Circular breathing as with most aerophones played in India is required.

Construction: The bansuri is traditionally made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. Diverse materials maybe used in modern designs from bone, fibreglass and a variety of metals. The six hole instrument covers two and a half octaves of music.

The bansuri is typically between 30 centimetres [12 in] and 75 centimetres [30 in] in length, and the thickness of a human thumb. One end is closed, and few centimetres from the closed end is its blow hole. The pitch of the bansuri is defined by the length of the instrument.

Citations: Bibliography: Arthur Berriedale Keith [1995] Vedic Index of Names and Subjects. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 441. ISBN 978-81-208-1332-8 ; Suneera Kasliwal [2004] Classical musical instruments – Rupa. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-81-291-0425-0 ;


Name: Bouzouki.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Greece.
Region: South Europe & Mediterranean.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Luthier: Manolis Paraskeyas.
Acquisition Source: Paul Kikuris,

Description: Bouzouki [in Greek: μπουζούκι pronounced in IPA: buˈzuci] plural bouzoukia in Greek; μπουζούκια]. Originally introduced into Greece during the 1900’s, by Greek Immigrants from Asia Minor. Outside of Rebetika, the bouzouki enjoys popularity in Irish music since the 1960s Irish folk revival.

Tunings: The bouzouki is played with a plectrum, it has a clean, sharp metallic tone. There are two types of bouzouki; the trikordia being a 3 course 6 stringed lute that is tuned not unlike a saz D / A / D or D / G / D or tetrakordia; being an 4 course 8 stringed instrument. The trikordia is the original form of bouzouki. The tuning most commonly used as a standard is a reentrant C / F / A / D tuning that is measured a whole tone below D / G / B / E the four bottom strings of a guitar.

Bouzouki Tunings
Name Type Tunings
Trikordia 3 course / 6 string D A D
Trikordia 3 course / 6 string D G D
Trikordia 3 course / 6 string D A E
Tetrakordia 4 course / 8 string C G A D
Tetrakordia 4 course / 8 string A D A D
Tetrakordia 4 course / 8 string G D G D

Citations: Bibliography: Songs Of The Greek Underworld by Elias Petrapoulas, The Rebetika Tradition. Translated from Greek by Ed Emery ISBN 0 86356 368 6 Saqi Books, 26 Westbourne Grove London W2 5RH ;


Name: Bulgari.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Crete, Greece.
Region: South Europe.

Description: The bulgari or [in Greek: μπουλγαρ] is a string instrument that originates from Turkey, especially from Anatolia among the Oghuz Turks living in the Taurus Mountains, similar to the bağlama and the çağür. The Bulgari belongs to the family of tambûr [long necked lutes] an instrument class that started in early Mesopotamia, which started to spread in the Ottoman Empire approximately around 14th-century.

The French musicologist William André Villoteau mentioned in his journal an instrument with two strings existing in Cairo called the tanbour boulghari or bulgarie. The bulgari proceeded to implant itself into Greek culture through Crete when refugees came from Anatolia in 1920, although a type of bulgari seems to have existed in the 19th-century among Christian and Muslim populations.

Citations: Bibliography: Laurence Picken, Folk musical instruments of Turkey, Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 276-278 Observation reported by Turkish professor Ali Raza Yalgin, in his work from 1940 ; “Stefanakis Antonis – Zaros, Crete”. Mid-East Saz Owners Manual Villoteau, William 1807 ; Recherches sur l’analogie de la musique avec les arts qui ont pour objet l’imitation du langage – Librairie Imperial ; Facaros, Dana 2003 Crete. New Holland Publishers. p. 61 ;


Name: Oudola.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Greece.
Region: Mediterranean & Asia Minor.

Description: The Oudola is a stringed musical instrument. It is said to have been custom-built for Agapios Tomboulis, according to his own specifications. He combined the words oud and mandola, and named it oudola.



Name: Ahenk.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Inventor: Süleyman Suat Sezgin, 1929.
Country: Turkey.
Region: Middle East.

Description: The ahenk is a fretless stringed instrument from Turkey, invented by Süleyman Suat Sezgin in 1929. It was designed to be played like the oud. The instrument is similar to a banjo; like the banjo it uses has a reflector bowl as a resonator. Unlike the Cumbus, another Turkish “banjo” invented in the early 20th century, the instrument has nearly disappeared. There is a renewed interest in the instrument, which is being built in Istanbul and in Eskişehir [where it was invented].

Construction: The body of the ahenk is constructed by way of staves similar to an oud although more round in shape. The front resembles a banjo, with a bridge between the strings and animal skin membrane. The neck is longer than an oud in length, similar to that of the much later invented cumbus. The strings are arranged in the same manner as the oud, although this instrument and an identical oudola strung using modern machine gear, guitar tuners.



Name: Lavta.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Greece, Turkey.
Region: South Europe, Asia Minor & Mediterranean.

Description: The lavta is a plucked string instrument from Istanbul Turkey. Known as a lavta [լավտա] in Armenian, also occasionally called Πολιτικό Λαούτο [politiko lauto] or [Lute from Constantinople] in Greek. The lavta was popular in the early 20th century; particularly among the Greek and Armenian communities of Istanbul, but also the Turkish community.

It was one of the many instruments played by noted Turk Tanburi Cemil Bey. It was gradually replaced by the oud and survived until this day. From the 1980s onward there has been a revival of interest in this instrument. The lavta is now available again in both Turkey and in Greece.

Lavta Tuning
Name Tuning
Bolahenk C G D A
  G D A E

Construction: The lavta is in the same family as the laouto and oud. It is constructed from a ribbed body much the same way as a laouto, bouzouki or saz. Utilizing the carvel bending technique to form the ribs that make up the body. The instrument has six doubled strings and a 7th single string arranged in the order of four doubled strings [a pair of two strings] and one single string.

Occasionally musicians may change the strings from nylon to metal to achieve different tonal characteristics of the same musical instrument when played. The frets are tied and are arranged to the quarter-tones present in the maqam system.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: Oud.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Many.
Regions: Many, Middle East & North Africa.

Description: The oud [in Arabic: عود‎ in Syriac: ʿūd in IPA: ʕuːd] as a wide spread lute bares numerous alternate names often many of the names are regional. The names include include [in Arabic: عود‎ ʿūd or ʿoud or plural: أعواد aʿwād]; in Armenian: ուդ or ud ; in Greek:  oúti ; in Hebrew: [עוּד‎ ud] ; in Persian: بربط‎ barbat. Although the barbat is a different lute instrument. In Turkish the oud is called ud or ut ; in Azeri [ ud]: and in Somali: cuud or kaban.

The scholars Iraqi [Robson, 1938] and the second Iranian [Mas’udi, 1874]. They posited a view; that the ud was invented by Lamak [sixth grandson of Adam], a direct descendant of Cain; on the death of Lamak’s son, he hung his remains in a tree, and the desiccated skeleton suggested the form of the ud. The myth attributes the invention of the mi’zaf [lyre] to Lamak’s daughter.” Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol. 3, p. 688.

History: Written documentation of the oud was given by the 11th-century musician, singer and author Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham [c. 965 – c. 1040] in his compendium on music Ḥāwī al-Funūn wa Salwat al-Maḥzūn. The first known complete description of the ‛ūd and its construction is found in the [in Arabic: رسالة في لوين ونا النغم epistle Risāla fī-l-Luḥūn wa-n-Nagham] by 9th-century Philosopher Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī.

Stretching from North Africa, Sudan, Horn of Africa, Zanzibar a lead melodic instrument in the genre of Tarab, the Middle East including Yemen and as far as Southeast Asia [notably Malaysia and Indonesia]. This instrument has been played for thousands of years. It is the direct ancestor of the European lute. The oldest surviving oud is thought to be in Brussels, at the Museum of Musical Instruments.

In Pre-Islamic Arabia and Mesopotamia, the oud had only three strings, with a small body and a long neck without any tuning pegs. But during the Islamic era the musical box was enlarged, a fourth string was added, and the base for the tuning pegs [Bunjuk] or pegbox was added.

In the first centuries of [pre-Islamic] Arabian civilization, the oud had four courses; one string per course — double-strings came later] tuned in successive fourths. Curt Sachs said they were called from lowest to highest pitch bamm, maṭlaṭ, maṭnā and zīr.

As early as the ninth century a fifth string ḥād [“sharp”] was sometimes added “to make the range of two octaves complete”. It was highest in pitch, placed lowest in its positioning in relation to other strings.

Modern tuning preserves the ancient succession of fourths, adjacent pitches, the lowest or highest courses may be tuned differently following regional or personal preferences. Sachs gives one tuning for this arrangement of five pairs of strings G / D / E / A / D.

Historical sources indicate that Ziryab [789–857] added a fifth string to his oud. He was well-known for founding a school of music in Andalusia, one of the places where the oud or lute entered Europe. Another mention of the fifth string was made by Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham in Ḥāwī al-Funūn wa Salwat al-Maḥzūn.

Oud Tunings
Names Tunings
Kurt Sachs [documented by] G D E A D
Syria / Arabic C F A D G C
Syria / Arabic  D G A D G C
Standard C E A D G C 
Oud with 12 strings  F A D G C F
Egyptian F A D G C
Egyptian G A D G C
Egyptian E A D G C
Iraqi / Bashir  C D G CF F
Iraqi / Bashir F C D G C F
Turkish  E A B E A D
Turkish C# F# B E A D 
Turkish D A B E A D
Turkish D G B E A D

Citations: Bibliography: Sachs, Curt 1940, The History of Musical Instruments – New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 254 ; Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol. 3, p. 688. Websites: Online Encyclopedia of Tunings ; / Stringing and tuning ;


Name: Kuisi.
Type: Aerophones > Flute > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12 
Country: Colombia & Panama.
Regions: Central & South America.

Description: A kuisi or kuizi is a duct flute that is made from a cactus stem, with a beeswax and charcoal powder mixture for the head [where the air stream is blown into]. The kuisi is played in both Colombia and neighbouring Panama. In the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; for example the Spanish speaking village of Atánquez. Similar flutes called carrizos, whose name originates from the name of the cane they are made from. The ensemble is thus named conjunto de carrizos.

The conjunto accompanies the dance chicote, a circle dance in which men and women alternate, placing their arms n each other’s shoulders. On the coastal plain, for example the town of San Jacinto, Bolivar. An ensemble known as the conjunto de gaitas commonly provides the music for the cambia, porro and other such genres as the vallenato. This ensemble consists of two duct flutes [ghaitas], a maraca and two hand-beaten drums of African descent.

Playing Techniques: Musicians often use wax to close the finger-holes and to alter the tone of the flute. By blocking one or the other tone hole on the kuisi sigi, and in the kuisi bunzi either the upper or lower finger-hole is covered. So that only the four finger-holes are used at any one time.

Varieties: There are male and female versions of the kuisi [or gaita in Spanish for pipe]. The female kuisi bunsi [also rendered kuisi abundjí in Spanish] is also commonly known as a gaita hembra in Spanish and has five holes; the male kuisi sigi [or kuisi azigí] is called a gaita macho in Spanish and has two holes.

Construction: Modern kuisi’s are between 70 cm and 80 cm in length, traditionally the measurement of the kuisi was defined by the arm of the maker. Kuisi’s built by the Kogi people are reported to be up to two feet or 60 cm in length. They are constructed from cane [carrizo] by the flautist him self.

The kuisi is always made by a male. The length being measured as three times the span between the extended thumb and little finger. Plus the span between the extended thumb and index finger. The finger holes are located with a distance between them. The finger holes are then located with a distance between them measured by the width of two fingers plus, half of the width of the thumb.

They are constructed from a cactus [Selenicereus grandifloras]  which is bored and whose thorns are cut. The centre is removed, first moistening and then boring with an iron stick. The cactus stem is thicker at one of its ends, this will go upside and coupled with the bee wax head which carries the feather mouth piece. Though the instrument is slightly conic on the outside, its perforation is cylindrical.

Citations: Bibliography: Joaquin Posada Gutierrez, Memorias Historico Politicas 1865 ; Bogota, Imprenta Nacional in 1929  ; Aquiles Escalante, El negro en Colombia, Monografias Sociológicas, no. 18 Bogota: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1964, pp. 149] on the fusion of Indigenous, African and European instruments and music cultures ; Websites:


Name: Igil.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: Tuva, Russian Federation.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: An igil [in Tuvan – игил igil] is a two-stringed Tuvan musical instrument, played by bowing the strings. It is called “ikili” in Western Mongolia.

Playing Techniques: The igil is held nearly upright when played, with the sound box of the instrument in the performer’s lap, or braced against the top of the performer’s boot. The igil is fretless, the performers fingers do not touch the neck, the finger-nails or finger tips glide across the strings during performance. The bow is held with an underhand grip.

Construction: The neck and sound box, are usually made of a solid piece of pine or larch. The top of the sound box may be covered with skin or a thin wooden plate. The strings, and those of the bow, are traditionally made of hair from a horse’s tail. In which the two strings are strung parallel from head stock to tail end of instrument.

Modern igil often have nylon strings. Like the Igil’s close relative, morin khuur of Mongolia. The igil typically features a carved horse’s head at the top of the neck above the tuning pegs, and both instruments are known as “horse-head fiddles”.


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