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Photographer's Note

This portrait of a Borneo sape player was taken during the 2000 Rainforest World Music Festival.

The Rainforest World Music Festival is a unique festival that brings together musicians from all continents and indigenous musicians from the interiors of Borneo. It is held in Sarawak Cultural Village among impressive replicas of dwellings from interior and coastal areas of Sarawak. Its formula of afternoon informative workshops, ethno-musical lectures, jamming sessions and mini concerts, followed by evening performances on the main stage has proven to be a hit with the audience, who come from near and far.
This year’s edition will take place from 11 to 13 July. If you’re in the neighbourhood, it comes highly recommended.

The sape is a traditional lute of many of the upriver people. It is carved from a single bole of wood; the best is said to be the tebuloh (a diptercarp), considered a 'bitter' wood avoided by insects. The frets are carved from palm stalk, and held on by a gum made by the kelulut bee.
Initially, the sape was a fairly limited instrument with two strings and only three frets. Its use was restricted to a form of ritualistic music to induce trance. Yet as groups such as the Kenyah and Kayan abandoned headhunting and its rituals, many older instruments disappeared, to be replaced by the sape. It gradually became a social instrument, used as accompaniment for the surviving recreational dances, and as a form of entertainment.
Now considered a purely musical instrument, the sape gained more strings and many more frets to increase its range. Many modern instruments reach over 3 feet in length.

More info on www.rainforestmusic-borneo.com.

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Additional Photos by Benny Verbercht (BennyV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2813 W: 35 N: 5734] (30600)
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