Tambura evolved from a stringed instrument known already in ancient culture of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Image of the instrument with a long neck and a small, pear like corpus found itself carved in stone from the third century BC. In Thebes and Egypt there are some preserved artistic monuments of the predecessors of Tambura , which they called the Lute. These Lutes,we later encounter with the Greeks and Romans.
The development of the Lute, we distinguish between two types: the short-necked and the long-necked.
From the short-necked Lute, which was brought by the Arabs, two instruments developed , Guitar in Spain, and Mandolin in Italy. From the long-necked Lute, which the Turks brought to the Balkans,four instuments developed,Tambura in the Balkans,Pandora by Bulgarians,Bandura in Ukraine and Balalaika and Domra in Russia.
The first historical documents of Tambura in this area date from 1551. from a travel- writer Nicholas, who acompanied the French Consul on the road to Turkey.
Turkish ethnomusicologist Mahmoud R. Gazimihala, says that one kind of long-necked Tambura, Saz was known before the arrival of the Turks in our region, around the ninth century. Later testimonies of French traveler Puleta, who traveled through Bosnia to Dubrovnik in 1658., show that in this region there was a music instrument called the Tambura, and it looks like "a wooden shoe of our peasants. " "The handle is three arshins long and slightly wider than two fingers. There are inserted only three strings that you srtike with your thumb. "
Although there are various opinions about the origin of the name Tambura, the origin has not been determined with certainty. It is believed that the name Tambura comes from the Persian language where "Tn" means string. Later we find two more words ‘’denbar’’ - Persian and ‘’tambur’’ - Arabic. The ancient Greeks had Pandora in their mythology , who was holding an instrument with strings, where touching strings with her fingers made sound. An instrument like that, in our southern region ,was called Pandora, Pandzora or Pažora and served among other things, for calling people on meetings, so the bailiff who played Pandora, got nicknamed pandur(serbian nickname for a policeman)
There are many names for Tambura, and some of them are: Bodluk, Baglama, Saz, Ćitelija, Šargija, Čungar, Čingr, Čingrija, Čanguri, Bazuk, Karaduzen, sedefli Tambura, which are of oriental origin, then Samica, Dangubica, Bisernica, Cika, Čandrkalica, Bugarija, Dvotelnik, Trotelnik, Tikvara and others, who are of Serbian origin.
Tambura,from a simple instrument, eventually evolved into a real concert, orchestral instrument. We now have the Tambura orchestra set of instruments that make a wide musical spectrum.
This group of Tambura includes: Bisernica, Brač, Čelović, Bugarija and Berde. Today, the most common names we encounter are of Roman origin: Prim, Terc-prim, Bass-prim, Terc-bass prim, Cello, Bass- Begeš and Contra. These names point to the fact that these are orchestral types of instruments, because they indicate the function of an instument in the orchestra.
According to generally accepted classification of musical instruments wich was drafted and published in 1914. by Erich Maria von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs in thier work "Systematik der Musikinstrumente", all of a string-type long-necked lute instruments are marked with the index number of 321.32 with a submark for long-necked lutes with a plate like body 321,321 (bisernica-prim) and long-necked lutes with a cabinet 321,322 ( Brač-Bass prim, Cello and Contra). ©tamburica.org©
Tambura is in the group of complex chordophonic instruments. Chordophonic instruments can be divided into simple and complex. With simple chordophonic instruments the resonator is a flat board that is rectangular (zither), or trapezoidal shape (kanun, cimbal - oplekelj). The strings are stretched along the length and the number of string differe. Complex chordophonic instruments are divided into two groups. The first includes those that are predominantly oval corpus - resonator, longer or shorter neck (tržački - different types og Tambura, string – fiddle- violin, lijerica and others… ), while the second group includes those instruments for which the strings are stretched in a frame ( harp).
Tambura is composed of three main parts: trunk, neck and head.
Body (corpus, ladle, Kopanica section, resonance box) is hollowed and covered with a thin board - ie the soundboard made of soft wood (fir, fir, Juniper). Recently, the hull is not hollowed but made of sticks glued in panels. On the upper part, ie the soundboard is a piece of hard wood (walnut, ebony), as the pen (guitar pick) would damage ie the soundboard. On the soundboard we drill one large or several small openings (holes), who are used to relese tones, and are called vents or jasnicas. On the soundboard a keel is located ,that allows the smooth flicker of stings. Laid on the upper side there are as many notches, as there are strings. At the bottom of the hull, there are 4-5 metal wedges, used for pinning strings, also called as buttons, or buckles.
Neck (handle, holder, grifbret) is a long, cone-shaped, notched at the top. On this, notched side, there is a thin plank of hard wood (walnut, ebony) - Grif canvas, and on the Grif canvas typed across are frets(fretboard). In the middle of the neck to the II, V, VIII and IX fret field ,pearl-tags are installed in different ways (button, small lira, or diamond, shaped...) and they serve to help the player during playing. The first fret is made of hard wood or bone and it has cuts for the strings. He is called the horse, or a comb.
The head (čivijište) is located at the end of the neck and it is drawn backa little bit. It is built in the shape of the lyre, halflyra or a slug. It is made from the same wood as the neck (one piece), and also may be set in the neck. On the head we drill 4-5 holes where pins are placed . Pins used to be of hardwood, and today they are a factory installed mechanism ,of metal ,that has 4-5 metal pins.
All Tambura instruments are tempered and tune up with the tuner or a stable tempered musical instrument.
On tambura , tone is made by triggering strings with a pen. The Pen can be made from animal horns, plastic or leather. Prim, Bass prim, Cello and Contra are played with animal horn pens. Contra can also be played with plastic - guitar picks. For Begeš-Bass weuse leather or plastic pen. ©tamburica.org©
Considering the fact that tambura evolved for many years in this region, it has mostly been woven into traditional and folk music, and used to perform traditional music from this region. In time,tambura evolved from a simple instrument into a true concert, orchestral instrument on which today besides traditional, a wide variety of musical styles, like gypsy, jazz, swing, pop, rock and classical music are performed. On this page you can hear how it sounds when tambura plays traditional, classical, rock, jazz, and pop music. ©tamburica.org©