I have known this instrument since I was very young when I saw it played by a black man who was passing near our home. I have never attended a concert where this instrument was used but I have seen shows on television with groups called stambali that frightened me a lot.

The low tone of this instrument (that slightly resembles the sound of a bass viol) made my heart quiver. Among the members of the group there was a tall masked man dressed in animal skins (rabbit, fox, sheep, wolf, etc…). This man called "Bousaadia" danced, holding chkacheks between his fingers (a metal percussion instrument like castanets). I also saw a cloud of smoke (incense) from a canoun* that covered the exit in these performances.

The "Bousaadia" was surrounded by people who danced intensely to the same rhythm until they fell into a trance. I was told that they danced that way to rid themselves of the evil spirits that plagued them. The first time I saw the gombri up close was when I visited the Museum of the Arab and Mediterranean Music Centre, "Ennejma Ezzahra", in Sidi Bousaïd. Since then, I have been curious and wanted to learn more about Read More
I have known this instrument since I was very young when I saw it played by a black man who was passing near our home. I have never attended a concert where this instrument was used but I have seen shows on television with groups called stambali that frightened me a lot.

The low tone of this instrument (that slightly resembles the sound of a bass viol) made my heart quiver. Among the members of the group there was a tall masked man dressed in animal skins (rabbit, fox, sheep, wolf, etc…). This man called "Bousaadia" danced, holding chkacheks between his fingers (a metal percussion instrument like castanets). I also saw a cloud of smoke (incense) from a canoun* that covered the exit in these performances.

The "Bousaadia" was surrounded by people who danced intensely to the same rhythm until they fell into a trance. I was told that they danced that way to rid themselves of the evil spirits that plagued them. The first time I saw the gombri up close was when I visited the Museum of the Arab and Mediterranean Music Centre, "Ennejma Ezzahra", in Sidi Bousaïd. Since then, I have been curious and wanted to learn more about this instrument and its origins. After doing some research, I discovered that the gombri belongs to the family of chordophones and comes from the black sub-Saharan African community.

The gombri has a total length of 109 cm. It has a wooden neck and soundbox. The soundbox has a cylindrical shape and is covered with goat skin decorated with henna and harkou (tattoo motifs). The goat skin is from an old goat that has preferably been previously used on a tabl (percussion instrument played with two beaters). This allows the goat skin to be stretched very tightly on the body. The skin is not heated, in contrast to the darbuka and the bendir. The wood bridge is called the rakez. The three gut strings that play the melody, are stretched by leather thongs that are attached to the body. Behind the bridge is a metal plate with rings that amplify the rhythm. They are called chanchana.

This instrument is still played although not very often and only in those areas where belief in evil spirits still exists.

* A pottery vessel in which coal is placed. It can be used for cooking or heating or burning incenses.


© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Gombri

Gombri (folk lute)

The Arab and Mediterranean Center Tunisia

Goatskin, metal
Le : 109 cm
© The Arab and Mediterranean Center Tunisia


This is a melody and rhythm instrument with three melodic gut strings, stretched by leather thongs on a cylindrically shaped body. The soundbox is goat skin that has first been used on a tabl (a large drum). A square metal plate under the bridge has rings that give the gombri a special tone, linking low notes with metallic vibrations. The neck is cylindrical and runs across the body that is painted green while the skin is decorated with henna and harkous (tattoo motifs). The gombri is used in stambali, a kind of sacred music leading to trances practised in Tunisia by the sub-Saharan black community.

This is a melody and rhythm instrument with three melodic gut strings, stretched by leather thongs on a cylindrically shaped body. The soundbox is goat skin that has first been used on a tabl (a large drum). A square metal plate under the bridge has rings that give the gombri a special tone, linking low notes with metallic vibrations. The neck is cylindrical and runs across the body that is painted green while the skin is decorated with henna and harkous (tattoo motifs). The gombri is used in stambali, a kind of sacred music leading to trances practised in Tunisia by the sub-Saharan black community.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Gombri: Audio

Gombri: Audio

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Centre des recherches et études andalouses, Centre des musiques arabes et méditerranéennes Ennejma Ezzahra, Musée de la musique, Laboratoire de recherche des musiques du monde, Musée acadien de l'Université de Moncton, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Musée d'art et d'archéologie de l'Université d'Antananarivo, Musée ethnographique Alexandre Sènou Adande, Musée national du Mali, St. Boniface Museum, Lycée de langues étrangères Alexandre Dumas, Museum of the Romanian Peasant

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Understand that music is an expression in all cultures
  • Understand that the relationship between personal feelings and music transcends borders and cultures
  • Develop respect for music from a variety of cultural contexts
  • Examine traditional music practices in selected Francophone countries
  • Demonstrate geographical awareness by identifying Francophone countries
  • Be aware of the musical contributions of various cultural groups in their own community
  • Understand that all world music can be organized within a standard classification system

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