Artisan Ama H’Loan preserves Central Highlands musical tradition

(VOVworld) - In the Central Highlands region, very few people are able to make and play traditional musical instruments as well as Ama H’Loan. People in K’Thon hamlet in Dac Lac province honor him with the nickname “Konia tree” which is a symbol of the Central Highlands, for his effort to preserve cultural values of his Ede ethnic group.

Although he has no formal musical training and knows nothing about musical notation, Ama H’Loan is able to produce musical instruments with precise intonation. H’Loan talks to us while he is making wind instrumental. "Some people make scores of reeds to get one right. I can make many reeds, each one as good as another. I make them with my heart and mind, following Uncle Ho’s teaching that nothing is difficult there is only the fear of lacking will."

In his 70 plus years, Ama H’Loan has never allowed him of much leisure. When he is not helping his children with farm work in the terraced fields, he makes musical instruments. H’Loan says everything derives from his passion for music and he learned to make musical instrument from his grandfather and father. "I learned from my predecessors and then tried to find out more by myself. I listened to the music, understood the melodies, and learned to make instruments", H'Loan recalls.

Ama H’Loan has been able to play music since he was 10. As he grew up, his passion for traditional music inspired him to learn how to make instruments to preserve his ethnic group’s tradition. At first, the other villagers paid little attention to H’Loan’s wandering in the forest searching for the most suitable bamboo stalks with which to make instruments. But gradually, his love for music spread to other villagers, especially the young.  H’Loan again: "I used to be the Deputy Secretary of the Dac Lac provincial Youth Union, and I understand the interests of young people. Their hobbies in the past were different from now and we have to know how to persuade them to learn the tradition. We have to teach, persuade and encourage them to play music with their heart. It’s not easy and takes time."

Ama H’Loan is happy to teach anyone who wants to learn traditional music at any time. He goes around to teach music classes in other hamlets. 24-year-old Y Luynh Mloo is a well-known musician in Buon Ma Thuot city. He has come to study with H’Loan to improve his skill and knowledge. "I’ve come to learn how to make instruments when I have free time. There are very few people who can make and play the flute and the traditional panpipe. H’loan shows me how to select good bamboo stalks and shares his tips for producing precise instruments. I encourage my fellow villagers to learn music to preserve the Central Highlands culture.   

Ama H’Loan’s house is always full of the cheerful sound of the flute and the pan-pipe."Dozens of people can play this music fluently. The result is like harvesting a good crop. It has been an encouragement to me. If we want to preserve our traditional values, we have to transfer them to the young people", says H'Loan.

Ama H’Loan is happy that some young people have learned their traditional music. But he wants to make more and more people passionate about this music as preserving cultural values requires the community’s support.