The Tar is a long-necked plucked lute, traditionally crafted and performed in communities throughout Azerbaijan. Considered by many to be the country's leading musical instrument, it features alone or with other instruments in numerous traditional musical styles. Tar makers transmit their skills to apprentices, often within the family. Craftsmanship begins with careful selection of materials for the instrument: mulberry wood for the body, nut wood for the neck, and pear wood for the tuning pegs. Using various tools, crafters create a hollow body in the form of a figure eight, which is then covered with the thin pericardium of an ox. The fretted neck is affixed, metal strings are added and the body is inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Performers hold the instrument horizontally against the chest and pluck the strings with a plectrum, while using trills and a variety of techniques and strokes to add colour.
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