Each tarhu is an individually designed and crafted work of art in which the particular qualities of the piece of timber, the overall form and the carved detail are worked together into an object of great beauty.
One of the most striking visual
features of the tarhu is the carving in the upper half of the body.
This carved dome both protects the delicate cone suspended inside and
provides a rigid support for the edges of the cone. The inspiration
for the designs comes largely from Islamic architecture and the shell
of the sea urchin.
The inspiration for the designs comes largely from Islamic architecture and the shell of the sea urchin.
Sometimes the aesthetic choices in tarhu design tend towards the use of timbers with contrasting colours, sometimes towards an emphasis on form, with the timber choices focusing more on lustre and a homogenous colour.
The structural concepts used in the tarhu represent a landmark in the design of acoustic instruments. Unlike almost all other acoustic stringed instruments, the tarhu system does not subject the sound-producing components to the destructive forces of string tension. This allows the cone to be constructed on acoustic considerations only.
This situation is achieved by two means:
· The neck forms a continuous structural beam right across the top of the dome, with the strings being attached to the neck at the head and behind the bridge. All longitudinal string tension is thereby taken by the neck
The angles formed by the strings passing over the bridge are carefully adjusted so that the downward pressure exerted by the strings on each side of the bridge is in a state of balance – the downward pressure on the cone is only just enough to prevent rattling and no more.
This advanced structural design has other benefits;
· There are no glue joints in a tarhu that are under stress.
Any repairs necessary due to impact damage are facilitated by the fact that a tarhu can be dismantled into it’s component parts with comparative ease in minutes, require no refinishing after reassembly, and can be carried out without de-tuning the instrument..
The characteristics of the bridge greatly affect the final sound of a tarhu, and after many years work it has now become possible to make some of the most significant parameters adjustable.
The bridge has two feet: one is active, and is connected directly to the cone; the other is passive, resting on the neck of the instrument where it passes over the body. The passive foot acts as a pivot in a similar way to a soundpost in the violin family.
The way in which the bridge affects the sound of the instrument is determined by a network of proportional relationships, which are all interrelated. Some of these are:
Adjustable Bridge Pin
With recent changes to the bridge and the whole region surrounding it, the passive foot is now adjustable in two ways:
While many hours are spent adjusting the final sound of each tarhu for optimum performance, the bridge pin allows each musician a significant amount of personalised tonal adjustment.