Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Joint issue of Belarus and Azerbaijan – Musical Instruments

On May 25, 2011 the Ministry of Communications and Informatization of the Republic of Belarus issued 2 stamps “Wheel lyra” and “Tar” from the series “Joint issue of Belarus and Azerbaijan. Musical instruments”. This lovely first day cover was sent to me by Irina from Minsk.
The wheel lyra (pictured on the stamp on the left and on the cover) said Irina, is an ancient stringed folk instrument of Belarus. In olden times it was played by wandering musicians and blind balladeers.
When the musician is sitting he holds the instrument on his knees, and when standing — on a strap over his shoulder. With one hand he pushes the keys playing a melody, and with the other hand he turns the protruding wheel which touches the strings creating the permanent accompaniment. The wheel lyra has a strong, sharp, somewhat nasal tone. Its quality largely depends on the wheel — it must have precise centering. 
The tar (shown on the stamp on the right) on the other hand is a stringed pizzicato musical instrument very popular in Azerbaijan. This is one of the few national musical instruments for which they specially create musical works. While playing, the musician holds the tar at the breast by his right hand in a horizontal position. With the same hand he plucks the strings by a plectrum. Technical and artistic capabilities of the tar are implemented through trills and different techniques of the plectrum strike. This instrument reminds one of the Indian sitar.

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