Name: Sargija.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia & Albania.
Region: Balkans, South Eastern Europe.

Description: The šargija [in Cyrillic: Шаргија / šargija, in Albanian: Sharqi] is a plucked, fretted long necked chordophone used in the folk music of various Balkan countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania and Serbia.

History: The šargija originated in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the rule of Ottoman Empire, and is played by Bosnians, Albanians, Serbs and Croats. Its original four strings have been increased to six or even seven.



Name: Sintir.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.5
Country: Magreb, Morocco.
Region: North Africa.

Description: The sintir [in Arabic: سنتير‎ sintir], also known as the Guembri [الكمبري], Gimbri or Hejhouj. It is a three stringed skin-covered bass plucked lute used by the Gnawa people. It is approximately the size of a guitar, with a body carved from a log and covered on the playing side with camel skin.

The camel skin has the same acoustic function as the membrane on a banjo. The neck is a simple stick with one short and two long goat strings that produce a percussive sound similar to a pizzicato cello or double bass.

Construction: It is approximately the length of a guitar. Having a body carved from a log and covered on the playing side with camel skin. The camel skin has the same acoustic function as the membrane on a banjo. The neck is a simple stick with one short and two long goat strings that produce a percussive sound similar to a pizzicato performed on a cello or double bass.



Name: Xalam.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.5
Tunings: C / A / E
Country: Many, Gambia, Senegal.
Region: West Africa.

Description: The xalam is a two stringed fretless lute that is a very close analogue of the Malian N’goni in its construction. Thus, suggesting a likely relationship between the two. The xalam is commonly played in Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Niger, Northern Nigeria, Northern Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Western Sahara.

The xalam also bears a similarity to the akonting. Someone who plays the xalam is called a xalamkat a word composed of the verbal form of xalam, meaning “to play the xalam” and the agentive suffix -kat, thus meaning “one who xalams”.

Etymology: it is also known in other languages as bappe, diassare, hoddu [Pulaar / Fulani], koliko [Gurunsi], kologo [Frafra], komsa, kontigi [Hausa], koni, konting [Mandinka], molo [Songhay / Zarma], ndere, ngoni [Bambara] and tidinit [Hassaniyya and Berber].

Tuning: The second tuning [ci kow or high] uses the same string intervals but the fundamental is placed a minor second above the higher melody string. Meaning that the open main strings now play the role of 3 and 6, with the supplementary strings acting as 3´ and 4#. The highest supplementary string usually being ignored.

Xalam Tunings
Names Tunings

In the third tuning [ardin] the fundamental is a minor third above; the lowest main string and the main strings are tuned to the intervals of 6 and 2. With supplementary strings tuned to the intervals 5 and 1´. The third supplementary string is either ignored or is tuned to intervals of 6 or 2´.

When playing in an ensemble, the ardin xalam main strings are tuned to a minor third below the cu suuf xalam and the ci kow xalam is tuned a major third above the ci suuf xalam to ensure that the fundamentals of each xalam coincide. Thus, if the ci suuf xalam’s C the following strings are the ardin / middle string is tuned in equivalent to the middle C. The ardin’s lowest note would be a low A and the Ci Kow xalam’s lowest note would be E.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: N’goni.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.5
Country: Mali, Guinea.
Region: West Africa.

Description: The N’goni is a closely related analogue to the akonting and xalam. The ngoni or n’goni is a stringed instrument having its origin in West Africa. The n’goni appears to be closely related to the akonting and the xalam. This is called a jeli ngoni as it is played by griots at celebrations and special occasions in traditional songs called fasas in Mandingo.

History: The n’goni has been in existence since 1352. When Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan traveller reported seeing one in the court of Mansa Musa. Battuta also reported the balafon. The n’goni is one of the likely candidates for the origins of the banjo that developed in the United States. A book written by English musician Ramon Goose about the Ngoni describes its known history, tunings and a beginner’s guide to playing the instrument.

N’goni Tunings
Names Tunings
Tutu Jara F G C A B
Tutu Jara  
Taara / Manding  
Taara / Ardin  
Da Monzon  
Kubemba / Bala  
Gesere Serahuli  
7 Stringed C C G D G E F 
7 Stringed C C D G D E F 

Construction: The body of the n’goni is made from a carved piece of wood or calabash with dried animal [often goat] skin stretched over it. A wood shaft functioning as the neck is inserted into the body forming the basic shape of the instrument. A support brace underneath the goat hide keeps the neck in place. While retaining the shape and profile of the body.

Citations: Bibliography: Mande Music by Eric Charry ~ Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa; Chapter Three, Pages 161-163 ; 


Name: Phin.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Isan region, Thailand & Laos.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The Phin [in Thai: พิณ, pronounced in IPA: pʰīn] is a lute that is played in the Isan region of Thailand and played mostly by ethnic Laotians in Thailand and Laos. Having a pear shaped body and only three single strings.

The neck of the Phin has a total of 15 frets. The frets installed on the Phin do not fall within the 12-tone Chromatic scale as seen on Western instruments such as the guitar. The body is originally acoustic which these are still available. Phin’s with solid bodies and electric pickups are becoming quite common.


Phin Pya

Name: Phin Pya.
Type: Chordophones > Zither > Stick.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Country: Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Region: South East Asia.
Dimensions: Length in cm.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @

Description: The Phin pya or pin pya is a stick zither played by the Lanna people of the Chiang Mai region of Northern Thailand. The instrument traditionally had two strings but now three and four string versions are quite common. The Phin pya is related to the Cambodian one-string satdiev or khse diev, which is probably older. Both instruments derive from early Indian veenas often pictured played by the goddess Saraswati.

Playing Technique: The Phin Pya is held upright, with the gourd facing towards the chest. The left hand holds the instrument with the thumb under the resonator. While fretting the melody string and occasionally picking the open accompaniment string. The right hand holds the body of the instrument in balance with the thumb.

While plucking the instrument with the third finger and fretting harmonics with the first knuckle of the first finger. This instrument is quite difficult play as the harmonic position played at the right change as the left hand frets the string. This instrument is very quiet and has a haunting sound.

Construction: The strings start at the tuning pegs and then run under a cord that is wrapped around the stick body to hold the coconut resonator in place. The strings then run the length of the body and run over a metal elephant head shaped tailpiece, which they are also attached to.

The main melody string is made of brass and the accompaniment string or strings are usually steel. A small tuning thread is loosely tied between the body and the accompaniment string or strings to facilitate a higher pitch and slide along the body to fine tune.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ [Phin Pya article] ;


Name: Giwong.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellophones > Jawharps.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 121.222
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Country: Philippines.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The giwong is a jawharp that is played by the Kalinga people of Northern Luzon in the Philippines. They were traditionally used for courting but now made more for the tourist trade, often made by non-Kalinga as well. It is a very flat jaw harp but with very good tone and very easy to play. These jaw harps are often readily available in tourist shops in many countries and as such not taken very seriously.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ [Giwong article] ;


Name: Bungkau.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Jawharps.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 121.222
Country: Sabah, Borneo Malaysia.
Region: South East Asia.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @

Description: The bungkau is the jaw harp of the Kadazan and Dusun people of Northern Sabah, Malaysia. Located on the north east coast of the island of Borneo.

The Bungkau is carved from polod palm stem. It is either shaved or peeled to obtain a two toned design. Often bunkau are fine tuned with a piece of insect wax.

Many Bungkau have a bamboo tube as a container. Bungkau can be heard quite often at festivals in Sabah, and can be purchased at small traditional handicraft stores in Kota Kinabalu.

Citations: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ [Bungkau article] ;

Dan Moi

Name: Dan Moi.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Jawharps.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 121.222
Country: Vietnam.
Region: South East Asia.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @

Description: The Dàn Moi is the traditional jaw-harp of the Meo [Hmung] people in Vietnam. Made of a thing brass and carried in a bamboo case decorated with brightly coloured fabric. The Vietnamese name Dan-Moi literally translates as “instrument of the lips”.

As such, these instruments became very popular in the tourist market. These are mass produced in factories rather then by hand, dan-moi are available in a variety of sizes and style.

Modern đan-moi are, sturdy and durable in construction. They, are much more precise in playing and tuning than their traditional counterparts. International demand for these jaw-harps is increasing.



Name: Morsing.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Jawharps.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 121.222
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: A morsing or murcang [also mukharshanku, mourching, morching or morchang, in Telugu: మోర్సింగ్ ; in Kannada : ಮೋರ್ಸಿಂಗ್ in Rajasthan : मोरचंग : in Tamil நாமுழவு அல்லது முகச்சங்கு : in Malayalam : മുഖർശംഖ് ]. It is found in areas ranging from Rajasthan, neighbouring Sindh, Pakistan, 

The morsing is a type of jaw-harp that is mainly found in Rajasthan. The morsing is used Carnatic music of South India, and also in Sindh Pakistan. The morsing is classified under lamellaphones and placed in the frames sub-category.

Etymology: The south asian term for the jaw harp, usually of metal and heteroglot construction [as such, an instrument such as the morsing is constructed from more then one piece].  It is usually simply called cang, this name and perhaps the instrument deriving from the chang of adjacent West and Central Asia originally meaning ‘harp’. The common names of northern India include morcang, murcang [in Gujarat and Rajasthan], muncang [in Kashmir] and so on.

The name appears to be compounded from this and the northern words muṅh [‘mouth’] and mū̃ṙ [‘head’]. Farther south for example in Tamil Nadu the form mursing or morsing is found, perhaps understood as ‘mouth-horn’. The names would thus suggest a southward diffusion of the instrument from the northwest.

The name murcang does not derive from a ‘Sanskrit mucanga’, as stated by Sachs [1914] and others, as this is not recorded in the ancient or medieval periods. In Uttarakhand the instrument is also referred to as biṇāī. In Nepal the variants murcuṅgā, machinga

Musical Context: In Carnatic / South Indian Classical Music the morsing plays a classica tala [temporal cycle] along with the mrdangam [double headed drum]. It can be played solo or in accompaniment to other instruments such as the ghatam. 

It is the only jawharp having classical status and it used in the Carnatic music tradition of South India. Carnatic music, and thus possibly the morsing, is also played by ensembles in temples, at weddings, and other ritual occasions, and to accompany classical dance.

Construction: The morsing is a heteroglot that being defined as an instrument constructed from more then one material. Consists of a circular frame, two parallel forks and lamellae [tongue] all of which are made of metal.  The metal tongue is bent at the free end in a plane perpendicular to the circular ring so that it can be struck and is made to vibrate. 

Citations: Bibliography: David B. Reck, 2000 Musical Instruments: Southern Area – In Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v. 5: 350-369 ed. Alison Arnold – New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. Websites: Alastair Dick, revised by Andrew Alter – Morsing / Grove Music OnlineMorsing / Grinnell College Museum ;  

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