How can I learn to play the ney?
Any starting tips on how to get it to make a
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 help.
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 of mouth).
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 lips.
See the pictures at http://www.bardoworks.it/neyzen.html--- it is a bit outdated....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
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%
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 right position.
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 the lips.
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 playing it!
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" or
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? Thanks
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 the hard 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,
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
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
I don't know about Deep Breathing, how is it
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 a while.
Do you suggest any note (and relative finger
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
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