While visiting the Wing Luke earlier this week I came across an interesting object on display. There wasn't much information available with the exhibit, but I wanted to know a little more.
Here is what I found:
This instrument is called a Tro. There are various types of Tro, all with the same basic body design. The body of the instrument is most commonly coconut shell. Strings are often made of silk, but may also be made from gut, nylon, or metal. The bridge is manufactured from bamboo, wood, bone, ivory, or seashell.
Wikipedia had this to offer on the different types:
Tro Khmer - three-stringed vertical spike fiddle with coconut shell body
Tro che - high pitched two-stringed vertical fiddle, with face covered in snakeskin
Tro sau toch - two-stringed vertical fiddle with hardwood body
Tro sau thom - two-stringed vertical fiddle with hardwood body
Tro ou - lower pitched two-stringed vertical fiddle with a coconut shell body, face covered in calfskin or snakeskin
It is unclear when the Tro was first developed in Cambodia. Still played today, Tro were developed sometime Before the Common Era (before year 0). They are highly mobile and take a matter of weeks to learn. It is played similar to a vertical violin, with the body sitting in the musicians lap. Tro are used primarily for classical Cambodian music.