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date: 19 November 2019

Tun [c’unc’un, tunkul, tum, tyum].locked

  • Andrés Amado
  •  and Matthias Stöckli



Slit drum of Mesoamerica, particularly the Yucatan peninsula, El Salvador, and Guatemala, similar to the Mexican teponaztli. Its origins are pre-Hispanic, and it is still predominantly played by Mayan musicians. Usually made of hollowed hormigo wood (Platymiscium dimorphandrum), it features an H-shaped cut on its upper side that forms two vibrating tongues producing different pitches often a 4th apart. They are struck with mallets, usually rubber-headed. When played, the tun is laid horizontally on the ground, on a stool, or on the musician’s lap. It may be played solo, in pairs of different sizes, or in ensembles with trumpets, flutes, fiddles, or guitars.

Guatemalan Mayans also apply the term tun to a double-headed cylindrical drum of European origin beaten with two rubber-headed drumsticks. In colonial dictionaries of Mayan languages tun can be found to denote trumpets. A similar instrument called k’utin or cutín is reported among the Ch’orti’ Indians of Guatemala, where it is believed to be an instrument ...

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