Abstract. This article examines the Kazakh two-stringed horsehair fiddle qylqobyz as a case study for conceptualizing musical instruments as “archives” that contain layers of historical, social, musical, and emotional information. This information is accumulated and maintained as “archival documents” within the musical instrument archive. These documents are then accessed and interpreted by performers, whose performance styles offer differing points of view on the significance of the qyl-qobyz to contemporary understandings of Kazakh national identity. By unpacking the many layers of information and meaning stored in the qyl-qobyz archive, the article explores its numerous musical contributions to Kazakh national identity narratives.

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