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  • Gong
    • lệnh ông không bằng cồng bà
      the master's orders are drowned by the mistress' gong; the wife's say is more decisive than the husband's
  • Ten years ago, the central highlands resounded with the echoes of an array of gongs. The Pleiku township in Gia Lai province was hosting the first "Cồng Chiêng" festival (Festival of gongs). Twelve Cồng Chiêng bands with 438 artists belonging to various ethnic minorities such as the Ê Đê, Gia Rai, Ba Na, Xơ Đăng presented a series of virtuoso performances. Seventy years separated the oldest and the youngest player Three years later, in 1988, participants numbered 1,000 from 14 ethnic groups from as many provinces. The deep sounds and melodies left an indelible impression on the large audience. The sounds of the Cồng and the Chiêng (Cồng has a knob in the middle, Chiêng has none -- Cồng makes the deep bass sounds, melodies are coaxed out of the Chiêng) are the very soul of the highlands. They are played to commemorate good harvests, at religious festivals and on many other occasions like child-birth, weddings, and funerals. Indeed, it is believed by the highlanders that a divine entity resides in each Cồng and Chiêng. In many communities, a Cồng Chiêng band consists of three Cồngs, nine Chiêngs, a drum and cymbals played by about twenty artistes. The compositions played differ, of course, with each festival and occasion --, lively, melancholic or sombre. The Cồng Chiêng in Vietnam's central highlands is the subject of study for many anthropologists, musicians, and "orientalists". Figures of Cồng Chiêng teams can be found on bronze drums which date back to 3000 years ago. This suggests that these instruments made their appearance in the early days among ethnic tribes such as Thái, and Mường in northern Vietnam, and Koho, Kor, Ba Na, Stieng, Mnong, in the central highlands. With recent economic and cultural developments, many musical instruments have made their way to the central highlands, but the Cồng Chiêng will remain intricately woven into the fabric of a highlander's life for ever. -- ()
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