[NetBehaviour] improvisations, 1961 Tekeli long-necked saz

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sat Jan 12 20:00:55 CET 2019

improvisations, 1961 Tekeli long-necked saz


i think of this is as somewhat historic instrument; the neck is
straight, old-style, not bent backwards at the nut, which is a
characteristic of contemporary ones. the saz was originally
9-string; i had it reset and repaired by Amir Vahab, a master
musician and luthier. i went for a 3-2-3 string configuration
instead of 3-3-3, which created more clarity in the mid-range.
the action is slightly high, but the instrument is gorgeous. the
bowl is adzed out of a single piece of wood, painted black. the
top is left completely unvarnished and unpainted; Tekeli
believed any finish would dull the sound. when i originally
received the instrument, it was fairly unplayable; the area of
the nut was a mess, the pegs were wrong, the frets set
incorrectly, and the strings were poor. now it's extremely
responsive. the first piece is played with the bowl door open,
emphasizing the lows; the second is with the door closed, which
creates a flatter sound. for the second i added slight reverb to
compensate; the first has none. the photographs present various
details of the instrument. i play the long-necked saz with my
fingers, not a pick; this gives me considerable freedom for
different non-traditional techniques. it's easy for the sound to
get lost among the numerous strings, for the piece to 'blur out'
- i have to be careful with this. i use silence to demarcate
sections, create breathing-room. i also play up the body, past
the upper fret, but it's tricky keeping the tuning correct
there, since the action is high at that point. on the other
hand, it's one of the instruments i feel most 'free' on, as if i
had the ability to do anything at all with it. playing fast
creates a 'sonic envelope'; playing slow can lead to an almost
harpsichord sound. it's not a relaxing instrument, but it draws
me in. (why so much music? because it's a way of thinking
through body and technology, body and object, stewardships and
tending; because it's under my control, under the radar; because
it's affordable, and i can create beautifully without the
pressure of the absence of community; because it's mindful and a
kind of presence otherwise i would have to forgo; because it
opens cultural landscapes; because it's narrow bandwidth;
because it can be ecstatic; because it can be extremely skilled;
because it puts me in my place; because it can be satisfying at
times; because it's there; and because, when i'm given the
chance, i can use it within technology; as a measure or
environment within the technology; and playing, i can breathe.)


More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list