THE MUSIC OF  SOUTHEAST ASIA:                                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                           >Home: Map<        Instruments             Videos             Articles             Links              Biography         Contact          Disclaimer                                      

Books + CDs

The zither  jarakhe or jakhe

The roots of this instrument lie in the Mon version of this instrument (" mi gyaung") which is elaborated looking like a real crocodile, thus giving the instrument its name "crocodile zither". The Thai and Khmer version is basically shaped like a big lute but played with a plectrum on the floor.

The three strings tuned C-g-c run over eleven bridged frets, which sometimes appear moveable, thus able to create diatonic and also equidistant scales.
The most remarkable effect is created by thin metal or bamboo layers under the strings vibrating against a metall box, thus creating a buzzing sound like on an Indian Sitar.
The playing techniques require a good feeling for the 5-6 cm ivory or bone plectrum, which is fastened to the index finger by strapping a chord around the finger.  The jakhe or jarakhe is a nowadays an active member of the Mahori and Khrüang sai ensembles, but is also commonly played solo and sometimes used for students to start practising scales.
While playing, the deepest strings resound as a drone while most of the melodic lines are performed on the highest string.
The huge instrument which is about 130 cm long is an interesting mixture of a zither and a lute and provides a beautiful link between both.

Pictures (Click to expand):


<- back to the list of instruments