Aleteia

The yaybahar: a new musical instrument

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What about adding one of these to your parish chorus?

Görken Sen is a Turkish musician who has invented a new musical instrument: the yaybahar. It defies categorizations, as it works both as percussion and strings, thanks to a series of extensions that allow the sound to propagate from the “mast” (which Sen plays as if it were a kind of cello or double bass) to a pair of surfaces that resemble flat hand drums (like a kind of tambourine, yet without the metallic attachments), which amplify or distort the sound, depending on how it is touched.

Daniel Ross, who writes for Classic FM, has described the yaybahar as “a sci-fi cello connected to a synthesizer that Aaron Copland stole from Stockhausen’s lab, with drums added to its feet.” And yes, it is a fair approximation. In the videos we share, Sen is seen playing the yaybahar in two very different ways, in two different scenarios.