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date: 13 November 2019


  • Patricia Matusky


Idiochord tube zither of the Kayan, Kenyah, and Kajang peoples of Sarawak, Malaysia; variants include lotong, satong, and pagang. The bamboo tube is about 50 cm long and 11 cm in diameter, closed at both ends by the natural nodes. A slit soundhole about 5 mm wide and nearly the full length of the tube is cut into one side. Sometimes geometric patterns are carved along the tube. Among the Kajang and some Kayan and Kenyah groups four strings are cut from the cortex of the tube, and small bridges inserted under each end of each string tune the strings. The satung typically uses four-tone scales that vary among the many communities playing it. Some six-string types are exist. On a four-string satung, the strings are paired on either side of the soundhole. The instrument is placed diagonally in the player’s lap, and the thumb and first finger of both hands pluck the strings. Melodies comprise short repeated motives in duple or triple meters or sometimes in heterometric rhythms. Women often play this instrument, which provides entertainment in the afternoons or evenings. Sometimes the ...

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