The SwarShala Indian music software includes Tumbi and over 100 other perfectly sampled virtual Indian instruments.

About Tumbi:

The Tumbi originated from the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent (specifically, the Punjab region). The traditional musical instrument is also called Tumba, toomba, toombi by the locals.

It is a lightweight, small instrument used by folk singers or musicians in Punjab, India. The Tumbi is usually only 55 centimeters long and has a width of about 10-13 centimeters. The diameter is about 10-12 centimeters, and it weighs only about 200 grams. The Tumbi only has one string on it. Using a characteristic timbre, the Tumbi players only play simple tunes on it.

A resonator made of pumpkin and wooden staff makes up the Tumbi. Skin is attached to its lower end to cover them. At the wooden staff's top end, a peg grasps the single metallic string in its place. The string is then dragged down and attached to the wooden staff's bottom end. As such, the string passes over the tiny bridge on the skin that covers the resonator. The Tumbi player can use the fingers on their left hand and press the string onto the wooden staff. It will enable them to change the pitch of the music they play. The string of the Tumbi is plucked with the upward and downward motions of the index finger on the right hand. Meanwhile, the Tumbi player uses the other fingers to hold the Tumbi at the staff exactly above the pumpkin-made resonator.

Tumbi recording in studio

In the 20th century, this intrument saw a massive growth in its frequent use. Most folk singers in Punjab carried a tumbi with them. The current modernization of the Tumbi is attributed to the revered Punjabi folk singer Lal Chand Yamla Jatt(1914-1991). Besides him, notable Punjabi singers from the 1960s to 1980s also adopted the Tumbi as their go-to instrument. The singers include Didar Sandhu, Kartar Ramla, Mohammed Sadiq, Amar Singh Chamkila, and Kuldeep Manak. The Tumbi was also used by Punjabi Sufi singers like Saeen Zahoor and Kanwar Grewal. The instrument's popularity grew steadily. It saw acceptance in the eyes of expatriate communities (of both Pakistani and Indian origin) in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Meanwhile, the Tumbi is also seen in several Bhangra scenes of the movies made in Bollywood. It also became widespread in Western Bhangra music. In addition, the American rapper Missy Elliott also used the Tumbi sound on her hit single from 2001, known as "Get Ur Freak On," which was produced by Timbaland. Master P's "20 Inch" also uses the Tumbi sound, played by Shawn Ramta, the grandson of Punjabi folk singer Hazara Singh Ramta. Even more popular was the hit “Mundiyan tu bachke rahi” by Punjabi MC with its iconic Tumbi melody.


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