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The kernei was used during official ceremonies, such as the solemn departure of rulers, and it was used also in military campaigns, battles, etc. The repertoire for the kernei basically consisted of alarm signals and fanfares, such as: a call to defence in the face of an attack, a signal to attack, solemn fanfares announcing victory and similar purposes.  

The kernei is one of the Kyrgyz wind musical instruments which, has not undergone any transformations to adapt it for use in modern day ensembles and orchestras and it still exists in its traditional form, (another such instrument would be the surnai). There are two kinds of kernei: the muyuz kernei (made from horn) and the jez kernei (made from copper or brass.) They differ considerably. The muyuz kernei is the oldest and is produced from the bent horn of a mountain goat, therefore its length varies between 30-40 cm. There is no mouthpiece. The jez kernei looks like a long pipe between one and two meters in length and some have a mouthpiece, but not all. The diameter of a bell of the horn is about 20 cm. Similarities with Uzbek and Uigur karnai is due to the proximity of Southern Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The sound of the kernei very is strong and loud, and is ideal for open spaces. It is especially well suited for alarm signals or ceremonial fanfares, sounding with its strong, shrill timbre. In the past its function was limited to the notification about major events and nowadays it is used in the celebration of large national festivals.




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