Among 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam, H'mong culture plays an important role in ethnic community. In the natural condition, the folk knowledge and ethnic cultural values play integral roles in the life of Mong people. One of these values is musical instruments.
The unique kind of costume of H'mong women
Ethnic Mong has a copious treasure of folk culture, especially musical instrument which emerges as a glistening pearl. Mong people are passionate with their folk songs such as the singing of love, wedding singing, orphanage singing and worship singing...The common feature of these songs is that they are not only verbal but also have ethnic instruments (flute, pan-pipe, ken la, ken moi...). In festivals, especially Gau Tao festival (celebrating New Year), among folk games, music and dance, the role of ethnic instruments is regarded as the soul of the Mong, which expresses their feeling with lovers, society and nature. From the lively unique H'mong cultural activities, almost youngsters know how to sing and use ken moi, reed, flute.
Ethnic Mong’s instrument shows the romance, smooth and strength deeply. The sound it makes is a natural beauty of the enormous highland and the simple of the Mong’s soul. Therefore, music and instrument of the Mong win the hearts of not only almost Mong people but also members of the other ethnic groups, especially music artists.
In this small article, the description below summarizes the feature of some crucial instruments in the cultural of H'mong people:
Khen: Khen Mong is made of Pomu wood with 6 big canes in different sizes. 6 canes symbol for the fraternity. They are set up tactfully to be parallel in the body of Khen. They look like the water flowing. This water brings a miraculous sound from the history to the present.
In H'mong culture, Khen is the most famous instrument
The sound of Khen is engrained into Mong people, familiar like the food their mothers feed when they were toddles. 13-year-old boys have a Khen in their shoulder every time they grow rice of go to the market. This sound is as strong as the life of Mong people because they have to be resilient and strong to encounter the hardship.
Whining being sad, they always tootle Khen to express their feeling and sentiment. In festivals, Khen sound echoes around the space. The elderly said “Khen sound is the soul of Mong people so that preserving it means preserving the identity of our people”. Mong boys tootling Khen and dancing very well are always loved and admired by many people.
Mong people love listening to Khen sound, tootling Khen and dancing Khen, which shows the history of maternal love, brotherhood and lifestyle instead of love confession like someone misunderstands.
Khen Mong is often used in funeral to express the pity and mourn for the dead in entertainment to compete and show the spirit and energy of people in the society
Dan moi: dan moi is an instrument used to confess love and communicate, which is indispensible in the love singing of Mong youngsters.
Dan moi plays an important part in spiritual life of H'mong culture
There are 2 types of dan moi: one bending like a basin and the others containing 2 flats. It is a copper lamina. It, both brittle and elastic, looks like a leaf, has a holding part and point to play. In the middle, they make a vibrating part. The sound is dependent on the player’s mouth which is similar to a hollow thing making resonance.
See other folk music
The timbre of dan moi imitates the Mong folk tunes, which makes a unique language of music and can be considered as the sentiment words that only close people can understand the content.
Reed: is a handmade simple instrument finding anywhere. Although reed is plain and available, not every leaf can make sounds. Reed players usually choose a tender, elastic and smooth leaf. Brittle and serrated leaves can not make standard and beautiful sound. Reed is used to express the feeling about nature and people. When tootling reed, people have to put it between lips and use breath to adjust the sound up and down with familiar songs and folk tunes.
Almost the H'mong people know how to play reed
Mong flute: In H'mong culture, Mong flute is a single flute having a blade. It is very unique with low-pitched sound along with dulcet and tunable one which is similar to the whisper ingrained into people’s heart. There are some typical flutes of Mong people:
- Vertical flute: is a type of flute that has 6 holes corresponding to 6 notes. Its backside near a point has a 1 wind hole.
- Flute: is usually smaller than those of other people. It has the similar structure to vertical flute but has a piece of wood in the mouth.
- Transverse flute: also has 6 holes but 1 more extra hole and a hole in the backside. The part that makes the sound is a copper blade.
- Calling birds flute: does not have holes. It is only 20 centimeter long. When piping, using hand to adjust the sound. This flute is used for calling friends, birds, or imitating the sound of the bird.
H'mong men always bring it along as their close friend.
In the folk, Mong flute is the instrument of boys. They usually bring it along as a companion, a fellow and a useful supporting tool in the love conquest. The infatuated sound of the flute calls their sweethearts and confesses the feeling with them in a moonlit night of high mountains.
Pipe for singing: singing pipe is a popular type of music activities in H'mong culture. It structure is very simple, including 2 bamboo sticks which length is 20 centimeters and diameter is 10 centimeters. One point is open while the other one is clogged with a threat linking 2 singing pipes to convey sounds. When they do pipe singing, some people sing from 1 point and others listen. Pipe singers usually the people who get married. The distance between 2 pipes is 10 to 20m.
One of the beautiful features of culture of H'mong
The sound will be conveyed through the threat to the side of listeners. Singing pipe is a group activity appearing in the festival or the crowded markets.
Musical instruments of Mong people are simple but have various ways to convey the sound, express the feeling and play important role in the H'mong Culture life of these people. A variety of instruments become featured goods of the high lands that an enormous number of people know.
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