Youth flock to study ancient fiddle with a twist

The đàn nhị, a bowed two-string instrument, is a multi-purpose fiddle in the vast treasury of Vietnamese traditional music.    Takes two: Xâm (right) with violinist Hoàng Rob in a duet performance  Also known as the Vietnamese fiddle, the instrument’s size, shape and materials differ according to the ethnic group which uses it.The đàn nhị has a range of two octaves, with a bright, clear, soft sound. To change the timbre or reduce the sonority of the instrument, the artist traditionally uses his left knee or a big toe to cover the instrument’s sound box. By so doing it creates a reverberating sound, defining the closed, even melancholic state of mind of the singer with its dark, cold tonal effect. The instrument’s unique features alloww it to produce a range of performances, with a special timbre, and give it the ability to reflect various emotional states. As a result, the đàn nhị has appeared in multiple music genres. The instrument is played in both folk music and European-style compositions, from solos and duets to trios as well as chamber and theatrical music. This flexibility is rarely achieved by any other traditional music instruments.The book Nhạc khí dân tộc Việt Nam (Traditional Vietnamese Musical Instruments), written by composers Lê Huy and Huy Trân, reads, “Đàn Nhị has been part of many past and modern orchestral organisations, such as phường bát âm (eight-instrument band), nhã nhạc (royal music), chầu văn (folk music combining trance singing with dancing), tài tử (amateur singing) and… [Read full story]

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