Dan Bau- Vietnamese monochord

(VOVworld)- Vietnamese people have a saying “Being a woman, you shouldn’t listen to the monochord” because the instrument produces a sad sound which implies the sadness of a woman’s fate. The concept has now changed. The sound of the monochord inspires people’s love for the homeland.

Dan Bau- Vietnamese monochord - ảnh 1
In modern society, there are a wide range of musical genres and instruments, yet in Vietnamese people’s minds, the typical sound of the monochord is always recognizable. Kim Thanh, a monochord player said that monochord is typical Vietnamese musical instrument: “The sound of the monochord is produced from the sound box. It has two main parts. A single string is stretched over a sound box. The string is fixed at both ends while a movable bridge alters pitch. Although having only one string, it can emit all the sounds in the pentatonic scale.”
Dan Bau- Vietnamese monochord - ảnh 2

A monochord consists of an oblong box-shaped sound board, slightly narrower toward one end. At one end of the sound board is a flexible bamboo rod that goes through a dried calabash whose bottom end has been cut out before being fixed on the sound board. At the other end of the sound board is a peg made of wood or metal used for tuning. The metal string is attached to the rod and the peg. The pluck is a pointed stick of bamboo or rattan. The instrument is about 1 meter long. Do Van Thuoc has made monochords for several years: “The shape of the monochord has remained unchanged- the calabash shape. To ensure that the instrument produces a beautiful sound, we need to select the right materials to make the instruments. We have one formula to make the instrument: the surface of the sound box is made of wootung trees and the sides are of rosewood, which is a very good wood. Wootung wood is soft and light making the sound softer”.

Dan Bau- Vietnamese monochord - ảnh 3

Like other musical instruments including the flute or two-stringed zither, the monochord plays an important role in Vietnamese music. Mr. Thanh again: “The monochord is an important instrument in the orchestra of Cheo (traditional opera threater), Cai Luong (reformed opera) and Quan Ho (folk-duet singing). The monochord is also played in contemporary music. The monochord is closely associated with folk tunes. The tunes that the instrument plays are more important that the technique used. The monochord can express the soul of the nation through songs and melodies in praise of the homeland”.

The monochord is an inseparable instrument in the traditional musical orchestra along with other instruments including two stringers, sixteen stringers, 36 stringers, and bamboo flutes. However, it can also harmoniously accompany other modern musical instruments. Monochord player Kim Thanh again: “The monochord always represents Vietnam in participating in performances of traditional Vietnamese music. In all genres of music, the monochord always plays an important role”.

Dan Bau- Vietnamese monochord - ảnh 4

The artist who plays the monochord always dresses in traditional costume. The image of the artist in traditional dress playing the monochord touches the hearts of the audiences, especially Vietnamese people who live faraway from the homeland. The music inspires their love for the homeland and reminds them of popular images of rural Vietnam including banyan trees, wells, bamboo ranges, rivers and bamboo boats.