Music of Kazakhstan refers to a wide rang of musical styles and genres deriving from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is home to the Kazakh State Kurmangazy Orchestra of Folk Instruments, the Kazakh State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kazakh National Opera and the Kazakh State Chamber Orchestra. The folk instrument orchestra was named after Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly, a well-known composer and dombra player from the 19th century.
Tradional music in Kazakhstan often refers to music of the following genres:
The Russian influence on the music life in Kazakhstan can be seen in two spheres:
Controlled by the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan's folk and classical traditions became connected with ethnic Russian music and Western European music. Prior to the 20th century, Kazakh folk music was collected and studied by ethnographic research teams including composers, music critics and musicologists. In the first part of the 19th century, Kazakh music was transcribed in linear notation. Some composers of this era set Kazakh folk songs to Russian-style European classical music.
Kazakh musicians themselves, however, did not write their own music with notation until 1931. Later, as part of the Soviet Union, certain Kazakh folk culture was encouraged to avoid political and social unrest. The result was a derivative of Kazakh folk music. In 1920, Aleksandr Zatayevich, a Russian official, created major works of art music with melodies and other elements from Kazakh folk music. Beginning in 1928 and accelerating in the 1930s, he also adapted traditional Kazakh instruments for use in Russian-style ensembles (such as increasing the number of frets and strings). Soon, these styles of modern orchestral playing became the only way for musicians to officially play; Kazakh folk was turned into patriotic, professional and socialist endeavors.
The Musical-Dramatic Training College, founded in 1931, was the first institute of higher education for music in Kazakhstan. Two years later, the Orchestra of Kazakh Folk Musical Instruments was formed The Foundation Asyl Mura is archives and publishes historical recordings of Kazakh music both traditional and classical. The Qurmanghazy Conservatoire is considered one of the leading conservatoires in Almaty.
The most popular traditional instruments are string instruments. First of them is the dombra (?), the most popular and the oldest Kazakh music instrument. Some argue that nomads have used similar two-string instruments more than two thousand years ago. The dombra is a long-necked lute with two strings tuned in the interval of a fourth or sometimes a fifth. The strings are plucked or strummed by the right hand without a plectrum.
The other instrument playing an important role is the Qobyz, which is a bowed instrument held between the legs. It is made of carved wood for the body, animal skin for the resonator, and horse hair for the strings, and the bow. The Qobyz is said to have been invented by the legendary shaman Qorqyt, long before the medieval ages. The "Zhetigen" ("Seven strings") could be seen as a member of the cither family, finding equivalents in China, with the strings being divided each in two parts of different lengths, the bridge being movable and consisting of small bone. There is also a plucked lute called sherter ().
Traditional Kazakh instruments are often used in contemporary music and play a big role in Kazakh music. Traditional orchestras include "Otryrar Sazy", "Kurmangazy Orchestra", "Al-Faraby sazy", and a number of others. Kazakh instruments are used not only by artists, but also is an integral part of the life of almost every Kazakh.