Traditional musical instruments of the Dao Khau

Cheo Thu - Ngoc Anh
Chia sẻ
(VOVWORLD) - Sin Ho district in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau is home to the Dao Khau ethnic minority group. Each Dao Khau clan has a set of musical instruments to use at family and community events such as funerals and weddings. The musical instruments are carefully preserved as a family treasure.
Traditional musical instruments of the Dao Khau - ảnh 1Musical instruments of the Dao Khau 

A set of traditional Dao Khau musical instruments usually includes a clarinet, a drum, a gong, and a pair of cymbals, played by four family members. 

Constructing the clarinet is the most difficult craft. A Dao Khau clarinet is made of ironwood. Its cylinder is approximately 30 cm long and has 7 tone holes. There are two kinds of clarinets. The male clarinet (phàn tị công) has a small bell while the female clarinet (phàn tị nhẩy ) has a bigger bell.

People familiar with the instrument can identify a male or female clarinet by its sound. Tan A Senh, a Dao Khau man who lives in Sìn Hồ, said: “It takes at least 4 or 5 years to master the clarinet. I love the male clarinet for its high tone and far echoing sounds. The female clarinet is a bass clarinet. It’s bigger than the male clarinet.”

The Dao Khau drum is made of light, soft wood which is easy to chisel. The drum is 12 to 16 cm in height and 30 cm in diameter. The drumhead is made with goat or pig leather. One end of each wooden drum stick is decorated with a red ribbon.

Traditional musical instruments of the Dao Khau - ảnh 2A musical troupe performs at a wedding ceremony of the Dao Khau. 

The Dao Khau gong is made of pure brass. It is a disk 25 to 30 cm in diameter without a knob in the center, unlike the gongs of the Central Highlands. The player holds it with one hand and beats it with a wooden stick.

The Dao Khau also play a matched pair of cymbals. The player straps a cymbal to each hand and then claps the cymbals together.

When a Dao Khau family has a wedding or funeral, a music team is invited to play music to heighten the happiness or sadness of the occasion.

Tan A Xoang, another Dao Khau man in Sin Ho, said: “Music for a wedding is completely different from other music. The clarinet is the lead instrument. The drum, gongs, and cymbal players have to follow the clarinet. The musical instruments are decorated with red ribbons as a symbol of good luck.”

The music makes a wedding ceremony more joyful and conveys a wish of happiness for the newlyweds. At a funeral service, the music team delivers a final mournful farewell to the deceased.