Karnay and Surnay

The Karnay and Surnay have particularly long histories. They have been well known since the the time of fifteenth-century Uzbek ruler, Tamberlaine the Great. In the past every celebration, victory, New Year, and court event was publicly announced by these instruments, their powerful voices roaring like dinosaurs. Today, their thrilling sounds remind audiences of such celebrated times in history, and they are used for state celebrations including Mustakillik (Independence Day) and Navruz (New Year), as well as in family celebrations such as toy (weddings). Indeed, no Uzbek celebration is complete without the sounds of these horns.

Playing karnay and surnay instruments has аn ancient history and this art is a national musical property of the Uzbek people. Basically till these days men have been engaged in this art and it has been descending from generation to generation and from master to apprentice. On can hear sounds of karnay and surnay in wedding parties and holiday ceremonies.

Karnays, used widely throughout Uzbekistan, are brass, unbent natural horns without valves, two meters or more in length. Sound is produced by pursing the lips through the mouthpiece. Karnays are played from the standing position while lifting and often moving the instrument in an upward direction. The diameter at the bell of the instrument is 220 millimeters. The sound is very powerful and can be heard from a great distance. Historically, straight and curved karnays were used by the military, with the army having louder sounding versions. Unbent (i.e. straight) karnays are assembled from three separate pieces, from the narrow mouthpiece to the bell. Most bells are decorated with] ornamental figures. Karnays are an essential element of musical ensembles for weddings and large national festivals. Their scale is diatonic because they are natural horns.

This instrument was made by master instrument -maker F. Bortnik in 1968, and is 21.2 centimeters long.

The surnay is one of the most complex of Uzbek wind instruments because of its structure. In shape and sound—a wooden conical tube with a wide bell—it is similar to the oboe. It is used throughout Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Caucasus—where it is known as zurna— and similar instruments are common throughout the Far East. Like karnays, surnays are an essential element of music ensembles for weddings, holidays and other celebrations. They are the solo instrument in such ensembles, which usually consist of karnays, doiras, and nagoras. Surnays are diatonic instruments with a range of l>l,5 octaves. They have six holes on the top, played with the first three fingers of each hand, and one hole underneath played with the thumb of the left hand, which is used for changing the register. The top of the instrument is fitted with a double -reed to create sound. Surnays' timbre 1 unique and quite different from other woodwind instruments.

This instrument was made by master instrument -maker K. Azimov in 1954. It is 460 millimeters long (without the reed), its bell is 78 millimeters wide and it weighs 500 grams.

Among all the Uzbek music instruments a special place is taken by karnay, which is a mouthpiece brass-wind instrument with many original and specific features. Karnay  is mostly used for fanfares and various signals. When it is played by veteran musicians, it becomes a very expressive instrument and it is widely used at different kind of ceremonies. In present Karnay and surnay are used across whole Uzbekistan as a herald of celebrations and entertainment, accompanying folk and circus shows, horse races and other sport games.

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