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Vietnamese Instruments played by KCBM's members

danbauDan Bau is a one-string zither native to Vietnam. It is constructed of a long narrow sound box, with a tall curved stem made from water buffalo horn inserted at one end.The single string runsbetween the sound boxand a small wooden gourd attached to the stem. The stem is bent tochange the pitch of the string.
The player touches the string lightly with the heel of the hand at harmonic-producing nodal points while plucking with the fingers. This produces the dan bau characteristic high clear sound.
As the sound box of the dan bau is very narrow, it is not a loud instrument, and was traditionally used in more intimate environments. In recent years an electronic version has been introduced to be played in ensemble and large concerts.

The bass bau was adapted from the dan bau to provide a musical range equivalent to that of a bass guitar. It is simply an electric dan bau with a very thick string on it.

kniK’Ni is a special form of stick fiddle found only in Vietnam. It was developed from the one-string “violin” of some ethnic groups (Bahnar, Gia Rai, E De, Xe Dang, Pako, and Hre) who live in the Truong Son-Tay Nguyen region in the south central highlands Vietnam. The modern k’ni has two strings. The player sits, holding the instrument between both legs.

The k’ni does not have a resonating chamber or sound box. Rather, the strings are attached by silk cords to a small fish’s scale or plastic resonating disc that is held in the player’s mouth. The player’s mouth acts as the resonating chamber and precise movements of the lips and tongue create a broad range of tonal colors and emotional expression, giving the k’ni its unique sound. Thus, the sounds are altered, almost evoking human pronunciation.

klongputK’longput is another instrument unique to Vietnam. It is made from a series of large bamboo pipes of varying lengths, each closed at one end or open at both ends. The pipes are placed on their sides with the open ends facing the musician, who has no direct contact with the instrument. Instead, the player cups both hands and claps quietly in class="style62">According to a legend, this instrument is the residence of Mother Rice (goddess). Therefore, it is closely associated with agricultural production, being played exclusively by women in the field and at specific festivities such as closing the rice storage house, welcoming the New Year, etc…

The k’longput is native to the Bahnar people of the central highlands, who are said to have created it after hearing the wind blowing into the opening of bamboo in the forest.


T’rung is a suspended bamboo xylophone, which is closely associated with the spiritual life of the Bahnar, TSedan, Giarai, Ede and other ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The original instruments were simply made, using a series of bamboo pipes struck with small sticks.

There are three types of T'rung: high, medium and bass t’rung. It has been largely improved; the modern t’rung has three rows of pipes spanning three full octaves (about 48 tubes) and is fully chromatic.

trelacTre Lac is a pair of bamboo tubes mounted on a bamboo frame and tuned an octave apart. The tubes are in different lengths and are cut halves at the upper two-thirds. A node closes the lower end of each tube. Two prongs extend out and fit loosely into a corresponding slot of the horizontal base tube. The base of the frame is attached by a handle which held by a player. When shaken, the concussion of the tubes against the base produces a pitch. Since each instrument makes only one pitch, it takes many single tre lacs to make a complete melody.
Tre lac is popular throughout Southeast Asia, but originated from Indonesia with the name Angklung.

 danmoiDan Moi (Jaw harps) is usually made from bronze or bamboo.It is held loosely between the two lips, in front but not close to the teeth. It can be found in many cultures around the world and made from a variety of materials.
Among some ethnicities in Vietnam, the Dan Moi is used to express feeling of lovers. The Dan Moi is an instruments for both men and women and could be played any where.

khenKhen be Khen be is a six to fourteen-pipe bamboo mouth-organ instrument of Thai ethnic people who live on the Highland regions of Vietnam, with versions to be found in Laos, Northern Thailand and Southern China. Each tube contains a small bronze or silver reed. All tubes are boundtogether into two rows and extend through both sides of the wind chamber.

Khen Be is the exclusive instrument of men and played in entertainment activities. It is usually used accompanying singing and dancing in the moonlight. As nights fall down, young men come and play Khen below houses-on-stilts of their beloved girls to open their hearts. Sometimes, Khen is played during working time such as on the way to the paddies.


Ken Bau The Vietnamese conical double reed with either a gourd or metal bell.
It is related to the Chinese so-na which came from the Middle Eastern zurna.


Dan Nguyet is known as a dan kim in Southern Vietnam the dan nguyet is a two-string long-neck lute with substantially raised frets and a moon-shaped body. Fretted pentatonic, other pitches, subtle ornamentations and nuances are achieved by pressing the string towards the neck with varying pressures. This technique of fretting is
extremely difficult, but results in a very beautiful and expressive tone.

Nguyet is used to accompany Van singing, Hue singing, Tai tu singing, Bat am music, ceremonial music and traditional stage orchestra. Today it also used as a solo instrument.

dinhpaDinh Pa is found in the south central highland regions of Vietnam, is made from a number of large bamboo tubes fastened in two rows and stood upright. It is played by striking the top ends of the pipes with a padded stick, although originally the open hand was used.

The bass dinh pa is simply a much larger version of the dinh pa.

Dan Tranh (photo is at the end the page) is a sixteen string member of the Asian long zither family. It is a very subtle and responsive instrument due to being strung with very light metal strings. The dan tranh is almost identical in shape and form to the zheng of Southern China.

Instruments innovated and invented by KCBM's members

sao_ba_nguoiSao ba nguoi is a novelty instrument a very long bamboo flute that allows three players to play on it at once.
Chi Ho adapted this instrument from the traditional flute for two players. (Copy right number: 050/2007/QTG)

Dan Bau (see photo Dan Bau above ): Khac Chi, as one of his innovations to the dan bau, has added frets to the instrument’s already complex array of pitch production mechanisms. With this part added, now Dan Bau has more sound with new technique.
Chi Ho received First Prize in the government's annual Improvement of Traditional Instruments of Vietnam in 1988 for his innovation on the Dan Bau.

saobopSao Bop (squeezing-bamboo flutes)
Sao bop are bamboo flutes played with “turkey-baster-style” air bulbs so that one player can play several flutes just by squeezing the bulbs-end which are held in player’s hands, under the arms and between player’s head and shoulders. Each flute can be produced three-difference pitches by changing air pressure.
Sao bop is invented and made by Chi Ho.
(Copy right number: 049/2007/QTG)

danquatDan quat
Dan Quat has two parts, which look like the paper handy fan. Each part has 4 bamboo flutes that connected with plastic boxes. Player holds the instrument and presses it on any part of the body. Each flute can produced two pitches of an octave by changing air pressure.
Sao bop is invented and made by Chi Ho.
(Copy right number: 038/2007/QTG)

Tre tram
(bass bamboo instrument) is a pair of long bamboo tubes mounted on a metal frame which joined to a wood base. Each bamboo tube has a pedal and played by foot. The Tre Tram can be played one or two bass tubes at the same time.

Together, Chi Ho and Bic Hoang made this instrument works for their duet.
(Copy right number: 051/2007/QTG)


© Khac Chi Bamboo Music * Tel: 1 604 254 1602 * E-fax: 1 408 519 6665 * Email: khacchi@khacchi.com * Website: www.khacchi.com