Recording the Santuri

The GSM team had been looking forward to seeing this instrument played, this was an instrument that we really wanted to capture on this trip. Traditionally invented in Iran, Kuwait, Syria the instrument had travelled a long way from the middle east until it got to the destination of Turkey/Cyprus.

We had spent a long time tracking down a player in Cyprus and we finally found a lady called Vanessa on Facebook. One of very few, Vanessa had plenty of experience with the Santuri playing concerts around the world. We had been in Cyprus for a week try to contact Vanessa but it appeared that all of our correspondence was moving into her junk mail box and she was waiting to hear from us. It was only on the penultimate day of our visit, when she checked her junk mail box, she noticed all the emails we had sent were in here. As soon as she noticed and realized the time we had left, Vanessa responded straightway.

We had planned on which group was going to go and gear we was going to need. We booked a cab and got their first thing in the morning with all of our gear, 4 Mic stands, 2 DPA’s and 4 AKAG C414’s and a Zoom H6, GoPros and Cameras to track as much of the recording as possible. 3 members of staff and 4 students, we were not taking any changes of leaving anyone out or missing any opportunity to record the Santuri.

We arrived and was welcomed with the most incredible hospitality, Vanessa and her two roommates greeted us with food and drink, we had not been expected such great hospitality, especially as the only corresponded we have had was through Facebook. All I can think is Phil Holmes must come over really well on Facebook.

Vanessa told us that she had been tuning the instrument prior our visit so it was pitch perfect for our recording session. The Santuri has three sections of nine pitches: each for the bass, middle and higher octave called behind the left bridges comprising 27 notes all together. The top “F” note is repeated 2 times, creating a total of 25 separate tones. The whole process took 3 long hours. Time, we were very grateful she spent in preparation for our visit.

Recording Setup

With plenty of recording and setups tested we final found the correct formation/setup for our mics and recorded a range of single hits and loops, Vanessa played the santuri by striking two small hammers elegantly creating an incredibly rich sonic sound.

The two beaters (hammered dulcimers) had soft coverings over the hammer. The string had working damper mechanisms; alongside Vanessa’s hands and fingers used for damping.

To see the Santuri being played in with such ease and pose was incredible to watch and a delight to record. We are happy to be able to offer this for you to play using Sampler Instruments on Logic’s EXS24, Native Instruments Kontakt, and Ableton’s Sampler.

I hope you enjoy the sound of this as much as we do.



  • Zoom H6 - Stereo setup 2x DPA
  • GoPro 4 - Timelapse recording
  • LG 360 Camera


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