Sound Ethnobiology of Musical Instruments: A Sound View of Nature in Manufacturing Kemençe

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Kemençe (small three-stringed fiddle) is mostly performed in the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey. In this study, we examine the manufacturing process of kemençe considering its relationship with natural sources. Data about the production and performance of kemençe are collected by fieldwork since 2018. In this context, the first author took kemençe courses from Ilyas Parlak, a well-known kemençe player, to understand the performance of the instrument in the region. He also held interviews with the luthiers to understand the usage of the biological and non-biological materials in the making process of this instrument. In this study, we propose the term sound ethnobiology to reveal how instruments are associated with nature in relation to their manufacture and performance. We have considered the term sound ethnobiology of musical instruments into five categories which are interrelated to each other. These categories are ‘bioecological sources of sound production’, ‘ecological knowledge of sound production’, ‘timbre arrangement of producing proper sound’, ‘traditional ecological knowledge of the sound of musical instruments’, and ‘ecological meanings of musical instruments’. We have put forward the manufacturing process and performances of the kemençe and its relationship to the nature in and around Trabzon by considering these five categories. Thus, we revealed that the kemençe making process is strongly tied to the interpretation of the natural sources in the region. This interpretation of the usage of the natural sources creates the traditional ecological knowledge of kemençe which is also strongly connected to its ecological meaning and the nature of the Eastern Black Sea region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-263
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017-2021, Trabzon University State Conservatory.


  • Kemençe
  • Sound ecology
  • Sound ethnobiology
  • Traditional ecological knowledge


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