Đàn Tam Thập Lục
is a beating chordophone of Viet minority. Because the instrument
has 36 strings, its name as Tam Thap Luc or thirty-six strings was
made. Tam Thap Luc has shape of an equal trapezium, with the surface
convex in the middle and made from light, soft and undecorated wood.
String holders and frame are made from hard wood. On the surface,
the two rows of bridges are alternately arranged consequently making
18 bridges for each row. At the left string holders, there are 36
hooks for string hanging, while at the right string holders, 36
tuning pegs are located. Strings are made from metal. Mallets consist
of 2 thin and flexible bamboo slabs with their ends covered with
felt for soft sounds.
The Tam Thap Luc plays an important role in the band accompanying
cheo and cai luong operas. It can also be played to accompany instrument
solos, singing, or as part of an orchestra. Recently, more strings
have been added so that all semi-tones can be played.
Tam Thap Luc gives sounds with pure, melodious and bustling timbres.
Register of Tam Thap Luc is quite large with over 2 octaves tuned
according to whole-tone scale. Lower register gives warm and sonorous
sounds. Middle register gives full and pure sounds. Upper register
gives sharp and neat sounds. When playing, instrumentalist beats
on the surface of Tam Thap Luc with two mallets and takes advantages
of techniques such as vibration, tremolo, stopping, sliding, making
chords, and others. The tones are bright and merry and the notes
of an arpeggio can be played in swift succession or simultaneously.
Tam Thap Luc plays an important role in stage orchestras including
Cheo popular opera and Cai luong renovated theatre. Tam Thap Luc
can be played solo or to accompany singing, or in ensemble in the
integrated orchestra of traditional instruments.
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