The kobuúr is a bowed and plucked stringed instrument in the lute family. This lute-fiddle was discovered in dreams and visions of an Otherworld and built by myself during the late autumn/early winter of 2020 to 2021 and finished during the summer of 2021. This instrument is particularly useful in musica speculativa, sound therapy, sonic voyages, healing practices, ritual theatre, experimental, acoustic, and fusion music. The kobuúr is strung with six sympathetic strings and two playing strings. This setup is similar to the Turkish yaylı tanbur (bowed tanbur) with the exception of using two cello strings instead of two metal strings placed in the same groove on the bridge as on the yaylı tanbur. The two main playing strings are also positioned to facilitate ease of nuanced double stop techniques. While still belonging to the class of instruments broadly referred to as “long-necked lutes”, the kobuúr has a much shorter neck than the traditional yaylı tanbur while retaining exceptional playability for “along the string” melodic techniques. This playability is in part due to the kobuúr being fretless which allows for a wide range of tonal colours on this type of instrument. Though the scale length is quite short considering instruments of comparative nature and playing technique, the kobuúr retains a primarily “single string” melodic technique as its main method of approach. The lower (tuned to concert F2) cello string functions as an occasional pedal tone/drone string or "double stop" string for two-string chord voicings and to help support the melodic function of the higher cello string.
My main instrument for many years has been a short-scale fretless version of the yaylı tanbur, mostly built and modified by myself from raw materials as well as instruments acquired in the U.S. and İstanbul. Gaining inspiration from multiple traditions of acoustic instrument making including the Asiatic Kazakh kobuz/qobyz/kobyz, Turkish Yaylı tanbur, and the European rebec, the kobuúr design aims to introduce a new and approachable way to access nuanced acoustic sounds. Also, a type of plucked zither and lyre and a few other designs are in the works. I am also currently having master tanbur maker Mustafa Gencer build a traditional Turkish-style yaylı tanbur.
As the work is ongoing, I remain interested in using millennia-old techniques and materials to build instruments such as the kobuúr, while embracing the ease and playability of modern instrument strings and tuning machines. Locally and sustainably harvested or salvaged wood, antler, bone and other natural materials tend to be accentuated. Each instrument is designed to be a unique and talismanic musical sculpture, a potent tool for esoteric musical work.
an object that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck
mid 17th cent.: based on Arabic tilsam, apparently from an alteration of late Greek telesma ‘completion, religious rite’, from telein ‘complete, perform a rite’, from telos ‘result, end’.
~Oxford English Dictionary