Kamancheh Tarhu

Kamancheh collage.jpg

Kamancheh Tarhu - 2001


The first kamancheh tarhu was inspired by the playing of the legendary Habil Aliyev. In 2004 Peter Biffin and Habil Aliyev worked together over an intensive 3 week period in developing the kamancheh tarhu’s sound, which laid the groundwork for how the design has unfolded over the ensuing years. It is an instrument with 4 or 5 strings, and can be played straight away by players familiar with traditional kamancheh - no new techniques have to be learnt.


Azeri and Persian styles

Vibrating string length is either 33cm, (standard length for Iranian style kamancheh) or 29cm (standard length for Azeri style kamancha). The sound adjustments provided by the moveable bridge pin (see Design) allows the sound of any kamancheh tarhu to be directed towards the sound palette of either Azeri or Iranian styles. Players of Azeri style kamancheh should note that because the Azeri string spacing is much wider than on a Persian style instrument, 5 playing strings can't be used without reducing the string spacing substantially.


Sound Design

The  kamancheh tarhu has been designed to produce the greatest possible range of tone colours with the smallest adjustment in how the bow is used. Compared to traditional kamanchehs, they also have a very strong sound.


Stringing and tuning

The kamancheh tarhu uses a violin string-set for 4 string models, and viola string set for 5 string models. Tunings are those normally used on Kamancheh - either fifths (identical to violin) or a mixture of fourths and fifths. As with other tarhus, the kamancheh tarhu will still work effectively with the strings tuned down a long way from their intended violin tuning. This facilitates scordatura tunings in which the pitch of various strings can be altered depending on the mode being played (the lowest string especially can be tuned down a long way on a kamancheh tarhu and still produce a usable sound).


For a story about the development of the kamancheh tarhu, see here


Sound Samples