Jolius carries torch for 'tagunggak', 'sompoton'

Last update: 06/10/2019

TUARAN, Oct 6  -- For one Dusun man, his way of expressing love for his cultural heritage was to preserve it for the future generation in the best way he knew how.

Since young, Jolius Sobinting, 50, from Kampung Sinansag, Kiulu had loved playing the ‘tagunggak’ and ‘sompoton’, which are traditional musical instruments made of bamboo and synonymous with the Kadazandusun Murut community in Sabah.   

Taggunggak (idiophone) is a set of traditional musical instruments made from large bamboo culms while sompoton (aerophone) is constructed from a dried gourd and eight bamboo pipes arranged in a double layered raft.

“In my youth, I spent a lot of time learning to play these instruments. I even tried to compose tunes that were suitable on the instruments,” Jolius told Bernama here.  

 However, it was only when he joined the Tuaran Cultural Arts Association (PESTA) about a year ago that he began to seriously master the instruments, eventually making him a full-fledged tagunggak and sompoton musician.

Jolius has since been conducting regular workshops in Tamparuli and Kiulu on the techniques in playing the instruments.

“It’s such a satisfaction to see the fruits of my labour among the youngsters who can now play the instruments very well. I’m doing it all voluntarily.

“I’m not a big name or famous in traditional music. It’s just that my soul loves cultural arts particularly our own Dusun ethnic heritage. I don’t want it to become obsolete over time,” he stressed.  

Not content with simply being able to play the instruments, he learned to make and sell them as handicrafts.

“I sell them for between RM50 and RM100 each. It helps to boost the family income,” he said, adding, the instruments have a shelf life of up to 10 years.

Jolius is optimistic that side by side with modern musical instruments, the tagunggak and sompoton would stay afloat in significance, “as long as the new generation of Dusun ethnics remain interested in playing them”.