Philipus Jani of Tambunan in Sabah with a bamboo saxophone, called ‘somporing’, which took him 12 years to design and patent. — picture by Edmund Samunting
KOTA KINABALU: For more than a decade, he carefully carved bamboo from a nearby forest, shaping it to resemble a popular musical instrument invented in the 1840s in Europe.
Philipus Jani, 39, had fallen in love with a brass saxophone he had borrowed from a friend, but unable to afford his own, he decided to make one.
“I thought of using bamboo. The experiment started in 1993 and I finally perfected a saxophone made of bamboo 12 years later.
“I used my own calculations and measurements for placement of holes and now, it functions perfectly.
“This traditional instrument is as good as the modern one and it shows that we can improvise and make instruments of our own using resources like bamboo,” said Jani, who comes from the Tambunan district, about two hours by road from here.
Not wanting his hard work to be copied by others, Jani has patented his invention with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia, calling it the “somporing”.
Jani, who showcased the conical musical instrument at the recent Sabah Fest, has sold 35 “somporing” and is banking on more orders not just from music enthusiasts but also from those eyeing unique Sabah traditional souvenirs.
A small “somporing” fetches RM500 while larger ones go for RM1,000 inclusive of a bamboo case.
“It takes me about four days to a week to make one “somporing” and I use the money to support my wife and six children.
“Sometimes, I perform traditional tunes and popular English, Chinese and Japanese songs. I have also composed a few tunes.”
Jani has also made a bamboo guitar, which he is hoping to introduce at the end of this month. — By Jaswinder Kaur