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Kazakh musical instruments.
“The God put a part of kui in the soul of each Kazakh from the moment of his birth”
The zhetygen earned its name from the seven strings pulled over the frame, which is an empty box about one meter (3 feet) long. Two supports in the shape of knucklebone, asyk, are placed on each side under the strings and the instrument was tuned by varying the span between them.
It is played by plucking at the strings and simultaneously pressing it on the opposite side of the support. This variation in tension of the strings produces vibrations of the sound pitches (micro pitching) giving special characteristics to the sound.
By the XX-th century, not even one of the zhetygen was found with Kazakhs, but thanks to the recollection of old people it has been restored. Improved types of the zhetygen are nowadays used in traditional musical ensembles and orchestras.
Zhetygen is an ancient seven-stringed plucking instrument, which reminds of gusli or lying harp. The most ancient type of zhetygen looked like the prolonged box hollowed out of the wooden piece. Such zhetygen did not have the upper sounding board and pins.
The strings were stretched by hand from the outer side of the instrument. Later the upper part of zhetygen was covered with the wooden sounding board. Assyks were out under each string from two sides. Moving them it was possible to tune the string. If assyks were drawn closer to each other the tune was rising, and if drawn apart the tune was falling. String tuning was made by the pins and by moving the supports.
The preceding legend is about the ancient musical instrument zhetygen. (Zhety means seven in Kazakh.) The nomad invented this instrument to counteract the results of global catastrophes like the passing away of a close relative, the quenching of the fire of life, grief and the disappearance of the sun and the moon making cosmos gloom and lifeless.
The only remedy for all these calamities is to overcome the grief and despair, shed cathartic tears, and play a seven-stringed instrument. It is believed that the sacred figure 'seven' is a symbol of life and vibrations from such an instrument generates a new life cycle.