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20 July 2007

Sompoton - Bagpipe of Borneo


SOMPOTON (Erofon)




Mouth organ. Called the "SOMPOTON" in the Kadazan-Dusun language. Upper part made from bamboo and lower part made from dried gourd (vegetable). Musical notes made by blowing into the mouthpiece and fingers releasing/stopping air on the four horizontal pipes. Points upwards. Played for personal entertainment or in a group together with other instruments. Musical sounds similar to that of the bagpipe.


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.

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