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The term ‘kopuz’ has long been used to mean ‘instrument’ in Central Asia, and is today used to represent instruments that may or may not resemble one another, and appears in different Turkish dialects as ‘komıs,’ ‘kobuz,’ kobız,’ ‘kubuz’ etc. What is presently referred to as the kobuz has survived in very different form among Turkish communities in Central, Western and Northern Asia. There is no firm information regarding when it came to Anatolia.

Some researchers suggest that the instrument was considered sacred by Turkish tribes and was used in religious ceremonies by the shaman, who regarded music as central to them, and were skilled poets who also played the instrument. In the 12th century and after, the use of the instrument was particularly widespread in Central and Western Asia.

In the middle Ages, it was known as ‘rebab’ or ‘rüd’ in Iran and the surrounding area, and began being used in Ottoman music under the name of ‘kopuz’ in the late 15th century. However, it is believed that it was actually brought to Anatolia much earlier by migrants, travelers and minstrels. Evliya Çelebi described the kopuz, which was very popular with migrants to Anatolia, as a heroic instrument. Kopuz players would play and recite tales of times of war as well as entertainments in times of peace. The kopuz had no frets on its stem, and was played with a hard plectrum called a ‘tambur’. It was also played with the fingers or bow. Those played with a bow were called ‘hair kopuz’ and those with the plectrum ‘hook kopuz’.

Although the kopuz is regarded as a short-stringed lute, its stem is very long in comparison to that of the ud. It thus resembles the Turkish lute of later periods.

Sound of the kopuz (1.51Mb)