BUNGKAU (Free Aerophone)
This jaw’s harp is made from the outer skin of a palm known as polod among the Kadazandusuns. A skilful hand is needed to fashion a good one.
The lamella in the centre is made to vibrate by striking the end of the instrument with the thumb. The vibrating strip makes very little sound by itself, but if held before the opened mouth, the player can gently magnify the sound by resonance. A wide range of frequencies can be obtained by varying the shape of the mouth and the position of the tongue.
When not in use, it is usually encased in and attached to a bamboo tube to keep it clean and free from damage.
This was first introduced into west Sabah by the Bruneis but it is also traditionally used by the Bajaus and some Kadazandusun people. It is usually played on festive occasions, such as weddings and religious ceremonies, where it is often accompanied by other traditional gongs.
The instrument consists of a set of about eight to nine small brass kettle gongs. Each sounds a different pitch when struck. The gongs are arranged horizontally in a row on a low wooden bed-like frame. The player sits down on the floor in front of the gongs and beats them with two small wooden mallets.
This mouth organ is the most fascinating of the Sabah native musical instruments. It is constructed from a dried gourd and eight bamboo pipes arranged in a doublelayered raft. One of the pipes has no sound, but merely balances the bundle. By blowing or sucking the gourd’s mouth, the player can produced a soft sweet harmonious sound. A small lamella of polod palm (like tiny bungkau) is inserted in the side of each sounding pipe near its base. The pipes are fitted into a hole on one side of the gourd and sealed with bees wax. The lamellae lie inside the gourd and provide the sound of the completed instrument. The pipes are bound with thin strands of rattan.
While playing a sompoton, the player covers and uncovers the ends of three of the four shortest pipes with three fingers of his right hand and three small openings cut in the base of the front shortest pipe and front and back pipes of the longer raft with fingers of the left hand.
The sompoton can be played as a solo instrument for personal entertainment or in groups to accompany dancing. It is popular among the Kadazandusun.
Known as tagunggak amongst the Murut, togunggak amongst the Kadazandusun or ‘togunggu’ in Penampang, these struck bamboo idiophones are played in groups to accompany dancing or processions at festive occasions.
One set comprises from six (togunggu’) to thirty (tagunggak) pieces, depending on the ethnic group. The music resembles that of the set of gongs of the particular group, with each idiophone tuned according to the corresponding gong part it plays.
TRADITIONAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT OF THE KADAZANDUSUN