Kazakh traditional music can be divided into two genres. The first one is instrumental, which in kazakh language calling kuy, where people were only playing on instruments, and the second genre is vocal music calling terme; in other words a talkative improvisational genre. People, who were musters in creating poems, were called zhyrau and zhyrshi, anshi were people, who were singing traditional folk music.
Of course, the Kazakh people have their own traditional instruments, and nowadays there are two popular instruments in which young people are interested in learning. They are dombra and kobyz. The dombra is gentle and soft instrument, which can produce velvety and sophisticated sounds by only two strings. The second instrument, kobyz, is a bowed string instrument, which is believed to be the most ancient one among the others that archeologists found. Kobyz is usually playing to produce sounds of the nature, like howling of wolves, cry of swans, running horse or a sound of a released arrow.
There are a lot of legends that are telling the origin of the dombra. One of them is saying that dombra had a five strings and without main hole in the center. This kind of instrument belonged to one boy, who was in love with khan’s daughter. The Khan told the boy to show his love to his daughter and the boy started to play on his instrument. At one point hi played a song about Khan’s greed and Khan became angry. He ordered to destroy the instrument and his people pour the hot lead on the center of it. The three out five strings tore and the big hole in the center appeared. The instrument became to have a look of a modern dombra.
The legend of the origin of the kobyz says that a father of music Korkyt ata, made the instrument. In the legend Korkyt was afraid of the inevitability of death and the transience of human life. Since his young age, he decided to hide from people and find the way to be immortal, so the death will never find him. One day, in his dreams, he heard a voice telling to make an instrument that hasn’t been yet made. The voice told him to sacrifice the most important living creature in his life to make the instrument. When Korkyt woke up he started the work. He made a body of the instrument from the wood of the nearest tree and made two strings from the horsehair. In order to sacrifice the most important living creature he killed his camel that he loved and made a carpet from its skin. Sitting on this carpet and playing on the instrument, he became immortal, but only if he will never stop playing. He played for hundreds of years creating the most beautiful sounds that were crossing across the steppes. Nomad people loved them and listened to Korkyt’s music for centuries. One day Korkyt was really tired and fell asleep. The music stopped and a snake came out of the bushes. It bit Korkyt and the death that he was trying to escape for centuries finally found him.
Of course, dombra and kobyz are not the only instruments in Kazakhstan’s culture. There are many other instruments that are used in kazakh’s music. The wind musical instrument named sybysgy. The instrument could be heard at weddings, birth of child ceremonies and during arrival of honorable guests. Asatayak is Kazakh and ancient Turkic percussion instrument, which could be different in shape and size. Another national percussion Kazakh instrument is daulpaz. The instrument has very strong loud sound, which was used in military purpose to give signals to soldiers.
Kazakhstan has a lively music, which is popular through the generations. Young people take pleasure to learn how to play folk instruments and secrets of folk singing. Most of them express high interest in traditions of aits and tartys, which is a competition of instrumentalist.