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16 Georgian Musical Instruments: #1 Awesome Guide

April 12, 2022

Do you want to know what Georgian musical instruments are often used in different country regions? Today, we will explore more about this topic so that you can easily talk about the concept of Georgian music among the locals. Let's get started!

Georgian Music: A Short Introduction

Georgia is known for its wide variety of musical instruments. Blown instruments, including the soinari also referred to as the larchemi (Georgian panpipe), stviri (flute), owed chuniri, also known as chianuri, and various drums are some of the popular instruments.

Georgia's rich vocal traditions have traditionally overshadowed the traditional Georgian instruments and, as a result, have much less attention from Georgian (and Western) historians. Dimitri Arakishvili, notably Manana Shilakadze, made significant contributions to the study of musical instruments in Georgia.

Georgian Folk Songs Through Georgian Musical Instruments

Georgia has rich and lively traditional music, as well as conventional polyphony, which is undoubtedly one of the earliest polyphonic practices throughout the Christian faith. Georgia is located on the boundaries of Asia and Europe, so it is home to a wide variety of urban music that incorporates native polyphones, mid-European monophonic, early European harmonics, and local languages.

Like Georgian folk songs, Georgian instrumental music is performed simultaneously in one to four voices. Below are the four types of voices

  • Three-voiced composition is most typical, as in song, and is played on panduri, chonguri, chianuri, changi, balalaika, garmoni, and tsiko-tsiko.
  • Two-voiced compositions are executed on the larchemi-soinari, the Kartlian, Rachan, Acharan, and Pshavian gudastviri, the two-stringed panduri chianuri, as well as the duduki and zurna.
  • The tune of one duduki is usually accompanied by one or two others, resulting in a two- or three-voiced performance; similarly, the tune of one zurna is generally accompanied by another zurna's bass drone, producing a two-voiced version.
  • There is also a four-voiced version of chonguri and a one-voiced performance on salamuri, pilili, stviri, and tulumi.

Furthermore, Georgian instruments commonly accompany Georgian folk songs and dances. There aren't a lot of solo instrumental performances.

In traditional Georgian life, performance by voice and instrument is controlled. Some songs are played without instrumental accompaniment, such as table songs, labor songs, Gurian polyphonic tunes, etc. At the same time, others are performed purely by one instrument like larchemi-soinari, salamuri, pilili, and sankeri.

Another thing is, songs and dances in a traditional Georgian musical context are performed only by one instrument at a time (like chonguri, panduri, chianuri, chiboni, gudastviri, doli, daira, tsiko-tskiko, garmoni or diplipito) or two completely different instruments of two separate kinds performed at the same time (like salamuri and panduri, doli and chonguri, changi and chianuri, doli and chiboni, doli and salamuri, or doli and garmoni).

Specific instruments are played equally by men and women (panduri, chonguri, chianuri, changi, mandolin, balalaika and garmoni). Some instruments, however, are only played by males (salamuri, pilili, larchemi-soinari, gudastviri, doli, diplipito, duduki, and zurna), while others are only played by women (daira, tsiko-tsiko).

Overall, there are talented experts whose instrumental execution extends far beyond the boundaries of Georgian traditional musical practice and thus is characterized by the artistry in Georgian music culture.

Georgian Folk Instruments

Wind, string, percussion, and keyboard instruments are among Georgia's most popular musical instruments.

Non-Georgians have practiced traditional Georgian features. Based on knowledge of their discovery and existing adages and traditions concerning their functions and musical semantics, we know the following instruments to be of Georgian roots. Below are some of the famous Georgian instruments:

  1. Percussion instruments like diplipito, doli, and daira
  2. Wind instruments like stviri, larchemi-soinari, salamuri, pilili, and gudastviri.
  3. String instruments such as changi, panduri, chonguri, and chianuri.
  4. Brasswind instruments like sankeri

Non-Georgian instruments, including the zurna, duduki, mandolin, balalaika, and garmoni were adopted and quickly became popular in Georgia in the 17th and 18th centuries. To correlate with the Georgian musical language, they undergo alterations in structure and tuning.

Georgian instruments originate from and are sustained by Georgian songs. However, even the most luxurious instrument cannot reflect the sophisticated progression of Georgian folk songs. In terms of musical language, no sort of Georgian instrumental music is not likewise mirrored in Georgian vocal art.

Georgian Traditional Musical Instruments

Georgian Traditional Musical Instruments

The following are among the traditional musical instruments and popular instruments commonly used in Georgia.

String Instruments

1.პანდური - Panduri (Three-Stringed Lute)

This traditional Georgian instrument is commonly played by strumming. Originated from Eastern Georgia (highland and lowland regions), which is seldom found in Western Georgia. The two-stringed panduri remains in Khevsureti

2.ჩონგური - Chonguri (Four Stringed Lute)

Originated from Western Georgia, that is played by plucking and strumming. The three strings are fingered, with the fourth functioning as a drone. It is mainly found in Abkhazia, Samegrelo, Guria, Achara, Imereti, and Guria,  with few in Lechkhumi.

3.ჭუნირი - Chuniri/Chianuri (Bow, Three-Stringed Viol-Type)

This traditional Georgian instrument is believed to have originated in Svaneti, where it is known as the chuniri in Racha, Khevsureti, and Tusheti.

4.ჩანგი - Changi (Angular Harp)

This Svaneti instrument features a six- or seven-stringed angular harp and is generally played by plucking.

5.ბალალაიკა - Balalaika (Three-Stringed Instrument)

This musical instrument is a three-stringed instrument played by strumming that is popular in the highlands of Eastern Georgia.

6.მანდოლი - Mandolin (Three-Stringed Instrument)

This musical instrument is a three-stringed instrument found in the highlands of Eastern Georgia that is similar to the Balalaika and is usually played by strumming.

Wind Instruments

7.არქემი-სოინარი - Larchemi-Soinari (Georgian Panpipe)

This is a Samegrelo-style Georgian panpipe, known as larchemi in Abkhazia and soinari in Guria. The larchemi-soinari includes six pipes. The larchemi pipes can be shared by two performers at the same time.

8.სალამური - Salamuri (Georgian Flute)

A kind of flute found mostly in Kartli, Kakheti, Meskheti, Tusheti, and Pshavi in Eastern Georgia. It can also be a tongueless flute (with 5 or 6 finger holes) or tongued (with 6 or 7 finger holes).

9.პილილი - Pilili (Georgian Pipe)

An Achara pipe with 5-7 finger holes

10.გუდასტვირი - Gudastviri (Georgian Bagpipe)

This musical instrument is said to have originated in Kartli, Racha, Achara (where it's known chiboni), Meskheti (where it's named tulumi), and Pshavi. The two pipes differ in terms of timbre, volume, and the number of holes.

11.დუდუკი - Duduki

This is a dual shawm-like instrument that was historically prominent in the towns of Eastern Georgia and is still prevalent in Tbilisi today.  It includes eight finger holes on top and one finger hole on the bottom.

12.ზურნა - Zurna

This is a wind instrument with a single stem that seems to be famous in Eastern Georgian cities and Kartlian villages. It includes 7 or 8 finger holes on top and one finger hole on the bottom.

Percussion Instruments

13.დოლი - Doli

It is a double-headed drum prevalent in Georgia's lowlands, particularly in Eastern and Western Georgia.

14.დაირა - Daira

a notable frame drum in Kartli, Kakheti, Tusheti, Samegrelo, Racha, and Imereti.

Keyboard Instruments

15.გარმონი - Garmoni

This is a kind of diatonic button accordion prominent in Eastern Georgia, particularly in Tusheti

16.ციკო-ციკო - Tsiko-tsiko

This is a type of concertina used primarily in Kartli

Other Georgian Musical Instruments

Other Georgian Musical Instruments
Georgian Musical InstrumentsPronunciation English Word
ინსტრუმენტიinst’rument’iinstrument
გიტარაgit’araguitar
ფლეიტაpleit’aflute
ვიოლინოviolinoviolin
არფაarpaharp
დასარტყამებიdasart’q’amebidrums
ფორტეპიანოport’ep’ianopiano
საყვირიsaq’viritrumpet

Discover The Georgian Language With Ling App

Since you've been introduced to some Georgian vocabulary (Georgian musical instruments), you might wish to explore and read more related blog topics, such as the common Georgian sports, delicious Georgian foods, and rooms in a Georgian house.

Do you want to learn more about Georgia and master the Georgian language? I suggest that you check and download the Ling App by Simya Solutions.

Georgian Musical Instruments

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