Đàn t'rưng, a musical instrument of the central highlands

Hai Yen  performing Dan T'rung at Saigon's 300 years anniversary

T'rung is one of the popular musical instruments closely associated with the spiritual life of the Bahnar, TSedan, Giarai, Ede and other ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It is made of very short bamboo tubes differing in size, with a notch at one end and a beveled edge at the other. The long big tubes give off low-pitched tones while the short small ones produce high-pitched tones. The tubes are arranged lengthwise horizontally and attached together by two strings.

There are three types of T'rung: high, medium and low tones. The simplest type is composed of five tubes corresponding to La, Do 1, Re 1, Fa 1, Sol 1 and producing deep and resounding tones. In the majestic Central Highlands, T'rung is often played after back-breaking farm work and during evening get get-togethers in the communal house around a bonfire with young boys and girls singing and dancing merrily. The sounds of the gong and T'rung also mingle together at wedding parties and village festivals.

The T'rung instrument has been largely improved. More tubes have been added, and at times as many as 48 tubes are arranged in three arrays capable of performing intricate piece of modern music while preserving the traditional sound scale Some players have even invented a stick notched at both ends for a single hand to produce two sounds at the same time, heightening the artistry of the instrument.

Hai Yen playing Dan T'rungIn the past, when playing, instrumentalist linked tubes together with 2 strings, then tied string ends on the side of high tones section around his belly while binding the other end of the strings to a tree or a rock. He then would play the instrument by knocking on tubes with 2 short sticks. The range therefore usually consisted of 6 or 7 tones in sequence of unequal pentatonic either Si - Re#1 - Fa#1 - Sol#1 - La1 - Si1 or Do1 - Re1 - Fa1 - Sol1 - La1 - Do2. Musician would use respective set of tubes pursuant to each musical piece. Nowadays, the range of T'rung is extended up to 3 octaves, and even there exists T'rung with chromatic scale.

"Mua Hai Qua" (ca. 90 kB)
extracted from "Instrumental Textures"

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