Đàn tranh

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The đàn tranh () is a plucked zither of Vietnam, which is similar to the Chinese guzheng , the Japanese koto, the Korean kayagum and the Mongolia Yatga. In northern Vietnam, the instrument is also known as the đàn thập lục.[1] It has a long soundbox with the steel strings, movable bridges and tuning pegs positioned on its top.

The đàn tranh can be used either as a solo instrument, as part of various instrumental ensembles or to accompany vocal performances.

History[edit]

Musicological studies in the late 20th century indicate that the đàn tranh and other East Asian zithers such as the guzheng, koto, gayageum, and yatga may have the bamboo tube zithers of Southeast Asia as their ancestor.[2][3][4][5][6]

In the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the đàn tranh had 14 strings.[7][8] Between the late 15th and the 18th centuries, the number of strings of the đàn tranh increased to fifteen and the instruments was called thập ngũ huyền cầm.[7] In the 19th centuries, the đàn tranh with 16 strings appeared and had become the standard version until the late 1970s and early 1980s.[7]

Description[edit]

The body of the đàn tranh is between 104 and 120 cm in length. The soundbox consists of a curved top plate, a flat bottom plate, and six side-pieces. The top and bottom plates are ususally made of Paulownia wood.[1] The side-pieces as well as the bridges, and tuning pegs and the two small legs are made of hard wood.[1] The movable briges have the shape of the letter V turned upside down, and their sizes varies according to their position: The one for the lowest string is the largest. The higher their position, the smaller their size is. The strings are made of steel and have varying diameters. They are tuned to the pentatonic scale. Performers usually wear picks made of metal, plastic, or tortoise-shell to pluck the strings.

The standard version of the đàn tranh, or the đàn thập lục had 16 strings and had been used between the nineteenth century and the late 1980s.[7] In the late 1950s, South Vietnamese master musician and instrumental designer Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo (b. 1918)[9] began to design and construct instruments with 17, 19 and 21 strings. By the late 1980s, the 17-stringed đàn tranh has become the standard version of the instrument used throughout Vietnam.[7] Larger instruments with 22, 24 and 25 strings have also been made in the 1980s and 1990s.

Playing techniques[edit]

Performers pluck the strings with the right hand and bend the strings with the left hand to create a wide range of microtonal and tonal ornaments. In traditional music, performers use 2 or 3 fingers (thumb and index, or thumb, index and middle fingers) to pluck the strings. In a number of new compositions, as many as four or five fingers may be used to pluck the strings. In these new works, the left hand may also be used to enable the performer to play two simultaneous parts.

Audio examples[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Le, Tuan Hung. Dan Tranh Music of Vietnam : Traditions and Innovations. Melbourne, Tokyo : Australia Asia Foundation, 1998. ISBN 0958534306 (hard back); ISBN 0958534314 (paperback), page 1
  2. ^ Le, Tuan Hung. Dan Tranh Music of Vietnam : Traditions and Innovations. Melbourne, Tokyo : Australia Asia Foundation, 1998. ISBN 0958534306 (hard back); ISBN 0958534314 (paperback), pages 5-8.
  3. ^ Kusano Taeko. "Classification and Playing Technique: A Study of Zithers in Asia", in Asian Musics in an Asian Perspective. editors, Koizumi Fumio, Tokumaru Yoshihiko, Yamaguchi Osamu ; assistant editor, Richard Emmert. Tokyo : Heibonsha, c1977, page 131.
  4. ^ Liang Ming Yue. "Zheng" in New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, volume 3 (1984), page 839
  5. ^ Kaufmann, Walter. Musical References in the Chinese Classics. Detroit Monographs in Musicology. Detroit : Information Coordinators, 1976, page 101.
  6. ^ Rault-Leyrat, Lucie. La Cithare Chinoise Zheng. Paris : Le Leopard d'Or, 1987, pages 7-28.
  7. ^ a b c d e Le, Tuan Hung. Dan Tranh Music of Vietnam: Traditions and Innovations. Melbourne, Tokyo: Australia Asia Foundation, 1998. ISBN 0958534306 (hard back); ISBN 0958534314 (paperback), page 12.
  8. ^ Tran, Van Khe. La Musique Vietnamienne Traditionnelle. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962. Page 20.
  9. ^ "Dan tranh". Retrieved 2008-06-08. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Le, Tuan Hung. Dan Tranh Music of Vietnam : Traditions and Innovations. Melbourne, Tokyo : Australia Asia Foundation, 1998. ISBN 0958534306 (hard back); ISBN 0958534314 (paperback)
  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London, 2001).
  • Pham, Duy. Musics of Vietnam. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1975.
  • Tran, Van Khe. La Musique Vietnamienne Traditionnelle. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 1962.

External links[edit]