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Dramyen

20. 1. 2008

 

 

Obrazek

 

Obrazek

www.atlasofpluckedinstruments.com/central_asia.htm

 


Tibet                  
 
dramyen

In spite of the many items sold on eBay called "Tibetan", they are all Chinese instruments - although painted in some typical way.

In fact the only real plucked lute of Tibet, is the dramyen (until recently mysteriously spelled : sgrna-snyan, but with the same pronounciation !).
It is often seen in the streets of Lhasa, played by beggars, who usually can play it quite well. In Bhutan a similar named, but slightly different instrument exists (see under). The body has some resemblance with the sugudu from China and the sickle shape pegbox with the tanbur from Tajikistan.

The body and beginning of the neck are carved from one piece of wood and hollowed out. The bottom half is covered with thick skin; the top half (which has halfway a sharp point at both sides, over the entire depth of the body - not just a shallow extension like on the rababs) is covered with thin wood. Between the two points is a cut-out rosette soundhole. There is a piece of wood under the top edge of the skin, with a gap between the skin top and the wooden top. The back of the body has carvings in such a way that it looks like it is made from separate ribs, with a narrow halfround strip over the "joins".

The neck of the dramyen is rather heavy, and glued with a lip-join to the body. It is fretless. The pegbox is sickle shaped, and usually ends on the front in a flat ending (and sometimes in the carving of a horse head). There are 6 long round pegs, three on each side of the open pegbox.

The 6 silk strings (in 3 courses) run over a loose wooden bridge to a wooden extension on the end of the body. A plastic plectrum is tied with rope to this extension.

Playing is with plucking simple "riffs" to accompany usually quite jolly singing. Hardly ever does a player go up the neck, all is done in the first position.

The example instrument I bought from a group of musicians in Lhasa (playing near the Winterpalace of the Dalai Lama) and so is extra decorated: red paint all over, with blue edges; flower-like decorations and even a horse head carving on the pegbox. Even the silk strings are coloured : with accent pens in yellow and pink !

Here is a more usual plain looking pegbox, without the horse head.

 

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