How can I learn to play the ney?
Any starting tips on how to get it to make a sound?
Ah.......it would be much easier to explain how to drive
a car by email!
One thing is certain: you have to use Deep Breath
technique if you want to extract a good full sound out of it. You know,
have you ever done some yoga? Then, you will recall all the best yoga/pranayama
lessons you ever had....... and precisely recall how to take a deep
deep inbreath----- then release the air little by little, holding the
amount of pressure with your diaphram muscle. Singing lessons can also
In order to produce a sound, well, you blow ubiquously,
.... don't bother about the holes, assume the posture of the lips as
in a kiss or as whistling; put the mouthpiece in contact with a side
of the lips -- right or left-- as you feel more comfortable; (later,
you will have the left hand up if you hold the ney towards the right,
with the mouthpiece supported by the right side of the mouth. This is
just like the transverse flute. Or you can play just the opposite way,
right hand up, ney toward the left, mouthpiece supported by left side
Put the mouthpiece (Turkish: "bashpare") on
both lips, by one side of your kissing lips (you choose which one side);
the reed goes 45 degrees oblique on one side of your body. Blow towards
the other side of the mouthpiece, the edge that does not touch your
See the pictures at http://www.bardoworks.it/neyzen.html---
it is a bit outdated.... much better, take a look at the pictures here:
and the entire method following...
The column must hit the edge just in the middle, as
50% of air will go in and the other 50% out.
Tech info: the column of air breaks exactly in 2, while
hitting the edge of the bashpare, as it does in all flutes. Every flute
must have an edge. 50% goes in, other 50% goes out.
Looooong outbreath, without much forcing, while you
move the ney towards every possible angle until it makes..... a sound,
a noise, a whistle.... anything will tell you how far you are from the
The mouth's posture is very similar to a kiss posture.
A very soft kiss, and the air comes out of the small hole formed by
This is a desperate attempt to help you, knowing that
nothing can substitute a good live demonstration. :)
There is no better way than to see somebody actually
Add-on (Jan 2008):
Well.... nowadays, with U-Tube and all
those videos....... it's easy to actually SEE and HEAR someone playing;
even great neyzen such as... well well, go into U-Tube and type: "ney"
What if I don't obtain any sound?
It is normal that you try for several weeks before getting
the first real sound.
Somebody don't EVER get any ;-)
Add-on (May 2008):
D: Greetings, Is there a sound difference
between horn and wood baspare? Which is easier to get a sound from?
R: In my opinion, the shape of the
baspare is more important than the material. Nowadays, the standard
shape seems to be like this:
. I actually use the derlin/hard plastic
(that is: bakelite) baspares imported from Turkey. But I mostly use
wood (olive tree, beech, cherry tree) baspares made by myself.
I don't notice any REMARKABLE difference
in sound among the three kinds --- derlin, wood, horn ---.
Thus, given the same shape, they sound
more or less the same; and I think the difficulty of producing sounds
is more or less the same.
It could be a question of durability
as well. But I find the three materials to be equally hard and resistant.
The horn baspare may be the easiest to break, if a trauma occurs.
From an aesthetic angle, the difference
is between a classical black baspare (derlin and horn) and the veining
color of the kind of wood (brown, light brown, reddish...).
In the end, there's no easy way to get
the sound ;-) I can fit out my neys with wood or derlin baspare (price
remains the same) or BOTH, for a small additional fee. Thanks for asking.
I can play the Shakuhaci. Does this help?
I can only tell you that you have to blow through the
upper edge like in shakuhaci except that there is no V shape and the
impact point on the edge of the mouthpiece is not central but it must
be either by the right or the left side, and your mouth's shape will
look more like a kiss posture.
I don't know about Deep Breathing, how is it done?
Deep belly breathing.... Freely inhale from the belly;
SLOWLY exhale little by little, controlling FROM the belly muscles that
the air doesn't go out too fast; i.e., when you're full of air, if you
RELAX your belly muscles all at once, the air will take half second
to go completely out. You want to do the opposite, that is, let it go
out in not less than half minute. In order to do so, you have to keep
the belly muscles TENSE, and only release tension little by little,
while the air slowly goes out.
Don't do this with the ney yet; just do it without for
Do you suggest any note (and relative finger position)for
Yes, I suggest the following fingers' position while
trying to extract a sound:
close the back hole with the thumb, the second and the
fifth front holes with your medium fingers (the so called fork position).
Do I play the ney by holding it on the left or right
of my body?
You can learn to play from either one or the other of
the 2 (left and right) sides. Even both, but no point wasting your time
on that. But once in a while it can be interesting to blow from the
"other"side, just to see how your body, lips, muscles etc. are taking
up an habit, while the other side doesn't.
Any tips on care and maintenance of the instrument?
The reed tends to get more or less dried, depending
on the atmosphere and humidity levels. It must be oiled outside and
inside, 2-3 times a year, on season's changes. Then you'll wait for
2-3 days for it to absorb the oil. Find a vegetable oil which is clear
and less smelly as possible. Wheat germ, almond, ..... olive
oil is still too smelly. Give it abundantly everywhere, also on wooden
mouthpiece, and let it absorb... You'll find that after the treatment
the reed tends to become more flexible, it vibrates better.