Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The kacapi is a small boat lute from the Bataks on Samosir island in Lake Toba, in North Sumatra. They are now mainly made as woodcarving souvenirs for tourists.

The kacapi (pronounced "kachapi") is made from one piece of wood, in a boat-shape. The back is hollowed out. There are 2 metal strings, which can be tuned by round wooden friction pegs on both sides of the open pegbox. The bridge is a raised bit of wood left in the middle of the body.

Usually the top of the pegbox, and the end of the body are nicely decorated.
If the front is left plain it may be a playable instrument; otherwise it is usually over-decorated with woodcarvings and difficult to play.

The entire instrument is painted in some dark brown colour, probably with shoe polish.

The kacapi seemed not very popular with players on Sumatra,
as I found only one boy able to play it, and could not find
any cassettes with pure kacapi music on it.