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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ferris


While I was in Malaysia, I had the pleasure of discovering an instrument I was as yet unfamiliar with - the Sape!

The Sape is a string instrument (much like a lute) native to the Orung Ulu communities of Borneo. It is still being handcrafted by instrument makers such as those working at the Sarawak Cultural Village, crafting Sape like the one pictured below: 


 The music I most frequently heard it playing featured improvisatory melodies over a basic chord structure (mostly playing the tonic chord on each downbeat). The melodies were hypnotic and enchanting and always put me in a quite contemplative, almost meditative state. 

You can see a short demonstration and explanation here: 

It has reminded me to look outside my narrow sphere of Western orchestral instruments and to explore the wide ranges of sounds and instrument families out there. This is especially important when honouring the diverse cultural backgrounds of our students. 

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