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JADE New World Collective

Ensemble Instruments

2 min read

JADE artists of multicultural musical backgrounds engage with various instruments to produce music with a unique quality and seamlessly fuse the layers of diverse notes into exciting compositions.

Discover the history behind each instrument played by JADE’s core ensemble that contribute to the distinct sound of JADE.


The word guitar comes from the Spanish word “guitarra” and is known to have originated during a cultural movement of the Moors from global Islamic regions to Spain.

In contrast to its opulent brother instrument – the lute, guitars were first regarded as mere folk instruments played only by the lower class. It was not until the Baroque era in Spain (17th century) that composers introduced the instrument into the royal courts. Between then and now, the guitar has developed greatly in size, construction, repertoire and playing technique.


Typically, the didgeridoo is a 1.5-metre-long indigenous wind instrument, traditionally made of eucalyptus wood hollowed by termites. It is believed to be the world’s oldest music instrument, over 40,000 years old.

Conventionally only men play the didgeridoo during ceremonies, although female players are still found playing outside of ceremonial contexts. Artists employ the circular breathing technique to produce a continuous tone from the didgeridoo – that is breathing in through the nose and simultaneously breathing out with the air stored in the cheeks. This produces an earthy sound, and often includes mimicry of the sounds of Australian wildlife.


The Koto was first introduced to Japan from China in the 8th century. For a long time, this instrument was played exclusively to the members of the royal court. However, in the 17th century it was popularised by a blind Shamisen player, Yatsohashi Kengyo, and normalised as a solo instrument. 

The Koto has a large 2 metre body, over which thirteen silk strings are stretched. They are plucked using picks worn on the artists’ fingers. Today it is played either as a solo performance or in accompaniment.


The Phin is a lute from Northeastern Thailand. Originally derived from the South Indian Veena, this instrument is typically played by ethnic Laotians in Thailand and Laos. The Phin has a wooden spade-shaped body, with three to four strings attached along its neck. Some are also sold with a detachable dragonhead carving that may be mounted onto the headstock.


Like many Indian instruments, there is little clarity around the specific origins of the tabla. Many believe it to have been founded by the Indian poet and musician Amir Khusro in the 13th century. Historically this instrument has been played by musicians from Northern India, Nepal and the Middle East.

A set of tablas contains a bass drum (Bayan) made of metal, and a small hollow drum (Dahina) made of wood. Both are covered with a layer of stretched goat skin across the top. What brings out a range of sounds unique to the tabla, is the dry black paste (Shyahi) painted in a circle atop each drum.


Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians

We pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors of this land, their spirits and their legacy. The foundations laid by these ancestors – our First Nations Peoples – gives strength, inspiration and courage to current and future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, towards creating a better Queensland.