Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Eastern Expedition. The Morin Khuur, Part 1

Some time ago I was contacted by a music student who casually asked if I could build an Igil or a Morin Khuur.  It took a second to pull the information out of the dark recesses of my brain's instrument archive.  I knew they were Chinese or Mongolian.  "I don't see why not.", was my reply.

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.

8 comments:

  1. Howdy, i'm a music student from Brazil and i greatly admire the work you did on the Morin Khuur, i was trying to find a chart or plans for the fiddle myself on the internet, but i didn't find anything of the like. I want to try to build one myslf and so i was wondering if you happen to have a chart with the fiddle dimensions with you? If so, could you send it to my email? its karelemes@hotmail.com

    Thank you!!
    God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! You have any instruction about the construction of a Morin khuur? Than ks!

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  2. Hello. Can you send me or post the dimensions of the instrument? I am interested in building a morin khuur and the dimensions would be quite helpful.
    Gumbiblockhead@gmail.com
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://woodfordinstruments.blogspot.ca/2016/03/morin-khurr-plan.html

      Delete
  3. Hello. Can you also send me the dimensions of the instrument? I want to design one on a 3d modeling program and use a laser cutter to cut the parts and see if it sounds decent.
    brodyott@gmail.com
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://woodfordinstruments.blogspot.ca/2016/03/morin-khurr-plan.html

      Delete
  4. Hello. Can you send me the dimensions of the instrument? I am interested in building a morin khuur and the dimensions would be quite helpful.
    litteriniluca@gmail.com
    thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://woodfordinstruments.blogspot.ca/2016/03/morin-khurr-plan.html

      Delete