Đàn nguyệt

Prof. Tran Van KheThe Southerners of Vietnam refer to this instrument as Dan Kim. Dan Nguyet has two strings and the resonator resembles the moon,that is probably why it is named Dan Nguyet, which means moon lute. The strings were traditionally made of silk but are today normally made of nylon, which can be strummed with either finger or pick. The Dan Nguyet provides a midrange pitch in traditional orchestras and is played in short, melodic passages. The instrument's use has varied from province to province, but in the south it's been used to accompany Cai Luong opera.

According to ancient carvings, the moon-shaped instrument appeared in Vietnam in the 11th century. Intended to be played by men, the lute has maintained a very important position in the musical traditions of the Kinh people. Therefore, this instrument is widely used in their folk, court, and academic music. The Dan Nguyet is distinguished by its pure and loud sound, as well as by its great capacity to express different emotional moods. Thus, it is heard at solemn and animated ritual concerts, funerals, or refine chamber music recitals. It can be played in solo, as part of an orchestra, or to accompany other instruments.

The side of the instrument is made of hard wood, 6 cm in height. The bottom is covered with wood without sound hole. The neck, 100 cm in length, fixed to 10 frets at pentatonic scale (7 are fixed to the neck and 3 are fixed on the surface). The head of Nguyet is put four tuning pegs but only hooked two silk strings (nowadays, nylon string is used). The two strings are tuned at a perfect fifth Fa-Do1; Sol-Re1 or a perfect fourth G-C1; D1-G1. In the past, instrumentalist used his/her fingernails to play Nguyet. Nowadays, they play it with a plastic or tortoise-shell plectrum. Nguyet has range of more than two octaves.

Nguyet is used to accompany Van singing, Hue singing, Tai tu singing, Bat am music, ceremonial music and traditional stage orchestra.
Today, masterpieces for Nguyet have been composed by many musicians to perform as solo such as Que Ta (My homeland), Chung mot niem tin (the same faith) by Xuan Khai; Tinh Me (the affection of the mother) by Tran Luan; Tinh Quan Dan (soliders and people relationship) by Xuan Ba...

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