This article is about the Persian kamancheh. For the related but different Turkish & Armenian instrument see Kemenche.
The kamancheh, kamencheh, kamanche, kamancha or qyamancha is a Persian bowed string instrument related to the violin. Older, traditional kamanchehs had three silk strings, but modern ones have four metal ones. The strings are played with a variable-tension bow. The kamancheh body has a long upper neck and a lower spheroid chamber made from gourd or wood acting as a sound box, which is usually covered on the playing side with skin from a lamb, goat, or sometimes fish. At the bottom of the instrument protrudes a sort of spike to support the kamancheh while it is being played. Hence in English the instrument is sometimes called the spiked fiddle. It is played while sitting down and it is held like a cello, though it is about the length of a viola. The end-pin can rest on the knee or thigh while seated in a chair. This instrument is widely played in classical music of Iran, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with slight variations in the structure of the instrument.
The kamancheh and the ordinary violin are tuned in the same way, and they have the same sound range. The two have differing resonances due to differing sound boxes, and the ear readily hears this, but, overall, the sound is similar.
The word "kamancheh" means "little bow" in Persian. The historical ancestor of the kamancheh is the Rebab. Kamanchehs may have highly ornate inlays and fancy carved ivory tuning pegs.
Famous Iranian kamancheh players include Ali-Asghar Bahari, Ali Akbar Shekarchi, Ardeshir Kamkar,Saeed Farajpouri and Kayhan Kalhor.
The Turkish and Armenian kemenche or kemence is a bowed string instrument with a very similar or identical name -- but it differs significantly in structure and sound from the Persian kamancheh. Other bowed string instruments akin to the kamancheh, yet differing more than slightly from it, include the Bulgarian traditional Gadulka, the old Russian Gudok, the Persian Ghaychak, and the Kazakh Kobyz. Persian traditional classical music also uses the ordinary violin with Persian tuning.
Music of Iran
Music of Azerbaijan
Turkish or Armenian Kemenche — also known as the Black Sea Kemenche
List of Bowed String Instruments