The Đàn Bầu.
The Đàn Bầu, and many other vietnamese instruments, have been fascinating to me ever since I saw them in the The Khak Chi ensemble at the Sound Symposium, St John's, NF can 1996. I was there with Hal Rammel, who has especially raised my interest for single string instruments, of which he has made some (and me too). For me, also string instruments without neck or fingering board, are also very appealing. All string instruments I've made are like that, except when I made the traditional Hardanger Fiddle. The Đàn Bầu is also fascinating in two other ways: it makes use of the harmonics of the string with the use of flageolets made by lightly touching the string with the edge of the little finger while simultaneously plucking the string with a bamboo plectrum held in the same hand! The other hand is at the same time changing the pitch up or down with a sway arm.
When I suddenly, in 2012, got a job as a piano tuner on a cruise going from Hong Kong to Singapore, I had some time off to get ashore in a vietnamese city and immediately found a music store. It was basically displaying common western instruments, but when I said “Dan Bau” (later I learned from a vietnamese woman that it's pronounced more like “nan bou”, if I got it right) they immediately showed me the instrument that I then happily bought. That instrument also turned out to be foldable! It is also amplified with a simple magnetic picup, since the acoustic sound is very soft.
It is difficult to play. But I've also tried other techniques, like using a bow. So far, I've used it for studio recordings for the film music to two of Carolina Hindsjö's beautiful short animation films.
On stage, I've used it only once, with Fågelpingis at Fylkingen.
One of the two short films by Carolina Hindsjö, in which I've used the Đàn Bầu in the film music.
Beautiful example of the traditional playing technique.
How to set up the instrument.