Sunday, August 21, 2011
An Eastern Expedition. The Morin Khuur, Part 1
The idea took root. These instruments are associated with the Tuvan culture. Tuvan music is characterized by peculiar modal octave harmonies. You may be familiar with the Mongolian throat-singing tradition I decided on the Morin Khuur, which loosely translates to "Horse-head fiddle". It has two strings and is bowed something like a viol, being held between the knees . What's really interesting is that the strings aren't stopped on the surface of the board, but "pinched" against the side of the fingernail or fingertip. The sound produced is a shimmering raspy tone. It's evocative of wind and wide open spaces.
I've finished the rough work and will undertake assembly this week. As it happens, I managed to find all the materials necessary in my cast-off pile. There's a good stiff Sitka top, bigleaf maple for the sides and back, (rejected as guitar sides due to a knot), some rock maple for the neck and pegbox, and a slice of rosewood for the fingerboard. So far the only thing I've had to purchase was a piece of steel to reinforce the neck. It feels good "salvaging" these woods.
I'll document the assembly in coming days.