breath life into

Music of Turkmenistan

The music of the nomadic and rural Turkmen people is closely related to Kyrgyz and Kazakh folk forms. Important musical traditions in Turkmen music include travelling singers and shamans called bakshy, who act as healers and magicians and sing either a cappella or with instruments such as the two-stringed lute called dutar.

Turkmenistan's national poet is Magtumguly Feraghy, from the 18th century, who wrote four line qoshunk lyrics. The Central Asian classical music tradition mugam is also present in Turkmenistan by name as the mukamlar

National anthem

As a Soviet Republic, Turkmenistan's national anthem was "Turkmenistan", composed by Veli Mukhatov with words by Aman Kekilov. In 1997 (well after independence), the anthem was changed to "Independent, Neutral, Turkmenistan State Anthem", the music and lyrics of which were written by President-for-Life Saparmurat Niyazov.


The dutar is the most representative instrument of Turkmen folk music. It is used in many styles, ranging from the mukamlar and saltiklar to the kirklar and navoi. These are performed by professional musicians called sazanda.


Tuiduk is a wind instrument (similar to Zurna). Turkmen say that Adam who was moulded from clay had no soul. It was only due to the melodious tuiduk playing Archangel Gabriel could breath life into him. According to a Turkmen legend the main role in tuiduk invention was played by the devil. There is a ritual of inviting guests for a celebration which has survived from ancient times. Two tuiduk players stand in front each other, point their instruments upwards and play in unison. While doing this they perform magic circular movements which remind that this ritual used to be linked to shamanism.

Dili tuiduk

The Dili tuiduk is a Turkmen woodwind instrument. It is a clarinet-like, single-reed instrument used mainly in Turkmen folk music. The instrument's range is greater than its six finger holes would suggest, the upper registers being attained by breath control. Dili tuiduk of the Turkmen can be carved in a couple of minutes by a shepherd in the springtime, when reeds grow tall, but a set of brass instruments for a police band needs an investment of money and time to arrive in town.


Gagri tuiduk

Gargy-tuyduk this is a long reed flute whose origin, according to legend, is connected with Alexander of Macedonia, and a similar instrument existed in ancient Eygpt. Attention has been drawn to the possible origin of the instrument's name, gargy, from gargysh, gargamak, gargysha galmak and gargysh etmek among the Turkic people meaning "curse". There is also said to be a connection with Kargyra and Kharkhira, the style of guttural singing for two voices of the northern Turkic-speaking peoples (Khakass, Yakut and Tuva peoples). The sound of the gargy-tuyduk has much in common with the two-voiced kargyra.


Bakshy were formerly the most important musicians in Turkmen society, along with tuidukists. They played the dutar to celebrate weddings, births, and other events.


Mugam is a pan-Central Asian style of classical music, performed in Turkmenistan by a dutarist and gidjakist, or by an ensemble of just dutarists


  • Broughton, Simon and Sultanova, Razia. "Bards of the Golden Road". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp 24-31. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

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