Rob MacKillop



I have a new dedicated website for my tanbur studies: Tanburi Rob

See you there!

  1. Rob – Just to let you know that the link for Mesut Cemil Bey doesn’t work, at least not right now. YouTube claims the video doesn’t exist. I’ve seen those messages be erroneous before, so who knows….

    Cheers, John Pierce

  2. Hi Rob – thanks for posting this information about the tambur. The attached research paper investigating the fretting of the instrument may be of interest:

    I am currently investigating the 16th C three string long necked colascione that may have been developed from the Turkish tambur. Engravings of the instrument by Mersenne and Kircher in the mid 16th C show ‘strange’ (ie not equal temperament!) fret spacings of the 16 frets on the neck that might be directly related to early tanbur fretting but less complicated? Wide spacings between frets could mean the colascione was played part fretted and partly unfretted according to the whims of the player. Tuning was an octave and a fifth (but there were other variations apparently) which would allow use of the octave string as a drone – however nothing is on historical record (it being an instrument of the streets) about its music and how the instrument was played. Listening to tambur performances might provide some clues?

    • Hi John, and thanks for the link. I’ve often contemplated a possible link between the tanbur and colascione, but never did the research. I’m not sure what help the instrument’s surviving repertoire would be, as it all seems to be very refined court music – far removed from the streets. But you never know. The Persian tanbur might be interesting too – smaller, some folk influence, worth looking into perhaps. Good luck!

  3. Hello again Rob – I did not mean that the surviving Turkish court music for the tanbur would apply to any attempts to reconstruct 16th/17th C colascione music just that the tanbur technique and tuning might provide some clue about the capabilities of the colascione. Reproduction colascioni are being made today and appear, in recorded performance, to be the equivalent of an electric bass guitar as bass continuo – which is OK musically but may be far from the truth historically. We may never know.

    For more information in English about the Turkish tanbur here is another research paper that may be of interest (albeit mostly scientific) – dealing with the acoustic aspects of the instrument. Interestingly the authors point out that the tanbur (as it is today?) results from changes that were made to the instrument in the late 17th C to enable makam studies for Turkish court music – the long neck allowing installation of the large number of closely spaced frets. They also give two alternative tunings of the four course instrument – A1 A2 D2 A2 or A1 A2 E2 A2 – the A1 (53Hz) course being single the remainder double.

    This may mean that the colascione of the 16th/17th C might represent more closely the tanbur of the same period as it predated the above changes to the Turkish court instrument?

  4. Hi Rob,

    Very interesting indeed. Ik happen to know that Arab music has eighty scales, and so it is very different from Western Music. If you would like to explore that fact further, you should seek contact with any sufi organisation in Scotland, or England. They can tell you more.

    I’ve enjoyed the whole site of you.

    Regards, Rinske

  5. Hi

    How come you have not tried fretless nylon guitar?


    • Because I love the tanbur. Obviously I’m aware of the magnificent fretless nylon-strung guitar work of Erkan Ogur – his album, Hic, is one of my all-time favourites. But I wanted to get away from the guitar, try something different. And the sound of the tanbur is so unique.

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