The samphor (Khmer: សំភោរ; also romanized as sampho) is a small, 2-headed barrel drum indigenous to Cambodia, approximately .35 meter wide by .5 meter long.[1][2] It has two heads, with one drumhead being larger than the other and is played with both hands.[1][2] Depending on the ability of the musician, the samphor can make as many as 8 different pitches.[1] The player of the sampho leads the pinpeat (a classical ensemble of wind and percussion instruments), setting the tempo and beat.[2] It is also played at freestyle boxing evens, accompanying the sralai.[2] The samphor is analogous to the taphon used in Thailand.

The samphor is made by hollowing out a single block of wood into a barrel shape.[2] Both ends are covered with calfskin, tightened by strips of leather or rattan.[2] One head of the drum is larger than the other to allow differing tones.[2] Traditionally, the maker "tunes" each head by applying a circle of paste made of rice and ashes (from a palm); however a new resin paste is available today.[1][2] The pitch to which the skin head is tuned becomes lower with a thicker layer of ash.[2]

The drummer makes use of four distinct strokes: an open and closed stroke for each head. Each of these four sounds has a Cambodian name:

Open stroke, small head (ting)
Closed stroke, small head (tip)
Open stroke, large head (theung)
Closed stroke, large head (tup)

See also


  1. Khean, Yun; Dorivan, Keo; Lina, Y; Lenna, Mao. Traditional Musical Instruments of Cambodia (PDF). Kingdom of Cambodia: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. p. 226.
  2. "Skor". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
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