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How to play a Professional Turkish Black Sea Kemence?



As fascinating as the name sounds, the Kemençe of the Black Sea is a traditional Turkish musical instrument. It is a three-stringed instrument tuned in perfect fourths (often B-E-A). You might even be amazed to know that Kemence was one of the most essential folk instruments of the Greek of Pontus that was first used in the Byzantine era around the 11th and 12th centuries . 


Anatomy of the Black Sea kemence


The Kemence of the Black Sea is a bottle-shaped bowed lute found in the Black Sea area of Turkey. The origin of the term kemence is the Iranian musical instrument kamancheh.


This instrument delivers a classic Turkish music flavor representing several festivals that honor the Turkish people's cultural and ethnic variety. A single piece of wood is used to build the body, pegbox, and neck. The soundboard is usually constructed with a different variant of timber. According to tradition, thick growth rings execute fine frequencies better than dilute ones. Densest rings are on the lowest string.



The Pontian lyre's three silk strings created a low musical tone until 1920. You will be surprised to know that two of these strings were made of silk, and one was made of the gut. However, today the strings used are made of metal, where two strings are of equal-thickness and the other is thinner.



With the perfect fourth tuning, the Kemence can be played in three different ways:


  • The uppermost string plays the music, while the next is used as a drone.
  • The first two strings play the music.
  • The lowest string is played, while the next is a drone.

NOTE: The lowest string is "Kapan" while the highest is "zil."



The bow is a distinct instrument part that cannot be overlooked. It's a 50 to 60 cm long wooden instrument with two sides and a bundle of fibers on the front. End-to-end fibers are tied with leather. The player's dominant hand presses the middle finger on this cylindrical point.

How to play a Professional Turkish Black Sea Kemence with a Bow?

Playing a professional Turkish Black Sea Kemence is quite like playing the violin. Therefore, you must have to play the instrument either standing or seated. It can be played downward in a sitting position, while in a standing position, the instrument can be kept at an angle. The strings are pressed down with a nail in the pear-shaped area, while the bottle-shaped portion is pressed with the knuckles to create a melodic tune.

 Are you ready to try out one such exotic musical instrument from Turkey?

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