BĀLĀBĀN, a cylindrical-bore, double-reed wind instrument about 35 cm long with seven finger holes and one thumb hole, played in eastern Azerbaijan in Iran and in the Republic of Azerbaijan [the former Soviet Azerbaijan] (where it is also called düdük). This instrument can be made of mulberry or other harder woods, such as walnut. The bore through the instrument is about one and a half cm in diameter. The double reed is made out of a single tube of cane about six cm long and pressed flat at one end. The performer uses air stored in his cheeks to keep playing the bālābān while he inhales air into his lungs. This “circular” breathing technique is commonly used with all the double-reed instruments in the Middle East.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: December 15, 1988