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date: 16 November 2019

Tung bok [tunbak]locked

  • Elaine Dobson

Extract

[tunbak]

Lute of the Lepchas people of Sikkim, North India. The body and long unfretted neck are made from one piece of hopta wood about 46 cm long. The small resonating bowl, 12 cm in diameter, has a goatskin belly. The strings are plucked with a tiny leather plectrum, which is attached to the end of the instrument with string. The bowl is usually round but some are pear-shaped, and very close in structure to the West Bengal dotara, while others have inverted ‘U’ shapes. The latter are somewhat larger, about 58 cm long overall with the bowl 25 cm long tapering from 15.7 cm wide at the base to 4.2 cm where it joins the neck. The tung bok ordinarily has four tuning pegs, although only three are strung; the fourth is provided for visual symmetry. Decoration is minimal and usually on the back of the bowl. Often striated designs are used, derived from feather or leaf patterns. The strings are tuned in ascending fourths with the first and third strings tuned microtonally sharp. Many performers make their own ...

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