Years ago, Chris went to the venerable Music Inn, intending to pick up “something interesting.” He returned with this, a 12-string Turkish instrument called a Cümbü? (pronounced joom-bush). It’s basically a combination of a banjo, a mandolin and fretless bass, combining all the disadvantages of each instrument (apologies to Peter Schickele).

The thing is remarkably difficult to play.   I usually subscribe to the philosophy that if I can play a clean note on it, I can make music out of it (harp and vibes, yes; sax and trumpet, no).  But the Cümbü? has me beat.  I’ve never been able to do anything useful with it, other than to make the people around me feel better when I stop playing.

So I decided to look on YouTube, to see what the instrument sounds like in the hands of someone that knows what they’re doing.  As you might expect, there are some killer players.  Which is the kind of thing that makes me want to give humanity a big hug — invent a nasal, impossible-to-play-in-tune instrument, and somebody will learn to play the shit out it.   Ignore the poor sound quality and check out this guy.

Although to be fair, I had to look at quite a few videos, with musicians of varying degrees of competence, to find that.  To save you the trouble, I’ve created Cümbü?fest!, which uses YouTube’s easy embedding feature to allow you to enjoy a number of Cümbü? performers simultaneously, thus conserving your valuable browsing time.  Turn it up, enjoy, send to your friends.