EOL 4: Kavals and Dzamares (Tammer)
1. The Ferati Family: Kaval Makers
The circumstances surrounding the long Macedonian kaval are certainly interesting. In the entire republic all the kavals I had seen (until recently) could be recognized as being made by the Ferati family, of Albanian ethnicity and Moslem faith. Since 1957 this family has resided in the village of Arachinovo (Harachino), a few kilometers east of Skopje, just south of the Skopska Crna Gora Mountains.....
Wood for kavals is cut in spring and summer from the trunks of small ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) growing on the Skopska Crna Gora mountains of the region near Brest, just a few kilometers from the Macedonia-Kosovo border. The trunks are cut approximately 50 mm in diameter, a meter long, and are taken from the top of a tree which is about ten years old. If trunk sections are taken too low on the tree, the kaval will become crooked again after the wood is straightened. The best wood is taken from trees which grow in the sun, as the wood is somewhat harder and drills cleaner. The wood is left to dry about one month after cutting. If wood is not left to dry somewhat, it will shrink after boring. The wood must not be left too long after cutting, however, for it will become too hard to straighten and bore.
The workspace for making kavals is entirely outdoors, in Liman's side yard, making this an activity which would not be engaged in during the winter months. The only fixed apparatus employed in the process is a device made from the crook of a small tree which has been attached to a metal pole in the yard (plate 1). Liman starts by making a fire in a low tin pan about 50 cm in diameter. Large beech chips are used for the fire. Two ash trunks are selected for a pair of kavals. Liman decides how long the kavals are to be. If kavals are made to order, the traditional player would determine a length by placing his fists, one over the other, along the length of a stick. He would ask for a kaval of 8 1/2 fists, for instance. Liman would mark the point and make a set a kavals to this length. Nowadays most kavals are made in standard lengths of roughly 69, 71, 76, or on rare occasions, for old players, 82 centimeters. The two ash sticks, which do not appear to be particularly straight, are rotated often and pulled slowly through the fire (plate 2). The bark becomes black and charred, and steam from the moisture in the wood is seen exiting at the hot end. The wood is thus steamed internally and softened. The whole process of heating takes abut forty-five minutes. Now the wood is hot, must be handled with gloves, and has become soft enough to straighten. Straightening is done very carefully, and takes about thirty minutes for each stick (plate 3). Liman explains that if the wood is not completely straight, the drill will wander off from the center of the wood, ruining the work.
After rough straightening, the charred bark and any irregular wood surface is removed with a drawknife to obtain a uniform round, smooth cylinder. Final straightening is completed at this point. Then the wood is set down for a few hours to cool. After cooling, one end is cut cleanly, straight across with a backsaw to reveal the annual growth rings and the dark pith in the very center of the trunk. The other end is shaped to a dull point with an adz. The pointed end is then pounded into a hole in the tree-crook fixture, and the wood is thus secured in a horizontal position for drilling
Liman has three drills, all made in the same style, for boring the hole, the diameters of which are roughly 15, 16 and 17 millimeters. The different diameters are not used for different length instruments, but are selected at the request of the player. Some players enjoy the ease with which a smaller-bored instrument can hit higher notes, while others appreciate the more powerful low notes of a wider bore. The point of the drill is now carefully placed in the exact center of the stick--which is darker, and where the wood is very soft--and Liman starts to rotate the drill (plate 5). For every four turns, the drill is pulled all the way out of the bore to remove the chips. As the drill is re-inserted into the bore it is thrust firmly home to seat the screw end of the drill. The drill must be very carefully aligned to the stick if the drilling is to proceed smoothly and on center. This is done entirely by eye. Before drilling, a small piece of thread is placed on the thin stem of the drill as a depth marker. Liman stops drilling when the marker reaches the entrance of the bore. Thus the drill does not go completely through the stick. If the inside of the bore is somewhat rough after drilling, as is likely to happen when the wood is soft, it is cleaned up with a stick to which a small piece of sandpaper has been glued. This cleaning is perfunctory, and does not widen the bore. Other than this sandpaper stick, no tool is used in the bore after drilling
The trunk is pulled out of the fixture after drilling, and the pointed end is now cut off with a backsaw to reveal a hole of about 3 millimeters diameter created by the point of the drill. Now the wood is trimmed with a drawknife (plate 6) in the following manner: A flat area is whittled away parallel to the bore on one side of the stick. As the whittling proceeds, Liman looks carefully into the bore to gage the thickness of the wall, according to the sunlight seen from inside the bore. More light means a thinner wall. For every stroke of the drawknife, he inspects the bore. While inspecting, he runs his finger up and down the outside of the wood to get a clearer impression of any wall thickness variation. Once one side is cut, another flat area is cut on the opposite side. Once two sides are cut, two opposing sides are cut at 90 degree angles to the first pair to create a square cross-sectioned stick of uniform thickness. Next, the corners of the square are cut to make an octagonal cross-section, uniform and concentric with the bore......(Sita poshte )