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date: 15 November 2019

Sundatang [gagayan]locked

  • Patricia Matusky



Plucked lute of the Dusun people of Sabah, Malaysia. It has an elongated ovoid wooden (typically jackfruit) body that can be quite small; or among some communities the body is rectangular (sometimes with bulging sides) and about 40 cm long. Its integral neck is about 50 cm long or longer. It has two or three brass (formerly root fibre) strings extending over a small bridge to lateral tuning pegs and sometimes to a long tailpiece. The melody string (tansi) passes over frets set in beeswax to allow change of fret position. The other one or two strings (called kawat) function as a drone. The sundatang is used solo for personal entertainment and, together with a small gong, to accompany social dance in a home. The Lotud Dusun community calls the instrument with a larger, rectangular body gagayan; up to 2 metres long, it is usually played by men to provide dance music in imitation of the community’s gong ensembles. Among the Lotud Dusun it may also be played in pairs in a kind of music called ...

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