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Vietnamese - English dictionary (also found in Vietnamese - French, Vietnamese - Vietnamese)
trống cơm
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  • Cylindrical drum
  • LEGEND OF "TRỐNG CƠM". A famous song from Vietnamese folklore goes thus: "How joyful to have a Trống Cơm; and it is an honour for those who can clap it skilfully..."The lyrics and the melody are usually accompanied by a picture showing boy or girl drummers with axehead-shaped turbans over their heads and long-shaped drums hung loose from the neck down to about the belly... All these easily mislead the audience to believe that Trống Cơm (the Vietnamese cylindrical drum) is an ordinary musical instrument. In fact, in the national musical instrument ensemble, Trống Cơm contributes an unique sound - now happy and cheerful, now low, soft and woeful recalling the innermost feelings of one's native country, one's homeland...The drum is held at both ends by a strip hanging over the performer's neck. It thus lie horizontally against the belly of the drummer who uses both hands to clap the drumheads. In the past, people stuck a handful of glutinous rice to each drumhead. Trống Cơm is used in worshipping and various ceremonies, in chèo (traditional operetta) and in Phường Bát Âm or an octet (a popular ensemble of eight instrumental timbres). The glutinous rice stuck against the drumhead lends its name to the drum (Trống Cơm in Vietnamese literally means "Rice Drum"). Legend goes that once upon a time, there was a poor Confucian disciple who was very unlucky in competitions and examinations and had to go begging. Everyday, he went past the mansion of a wealthy family where there was always a girl waiting to give him rice. One day, so moved and also ashamed by her good deed, the young man came to thank the girl. She however said that she had done just what she had been ordered to do by her young mistress. Learning that, the man requested to see the mistress, who was a kind-hearted girl. Seeing the poor scholar bowing with joined hands, the damsel hurriedly bent down to raise him and said: "Never mind, please! I understand and sympathize with your unlucky lot. Since you depart now, I would like to give you a small sum as travelling expenses and this golden hair pin in the earnest hope that one day you will succeed in making both a living and your way in the world and come back to the native land, and then...". The girl left the sentence unfinished, but the scholar had got the message. Fully conscious of his fated misfortune at the workplace and in his pursuit of fame, he decided to turn to music with a determination to achieve success. As time passed, he became famous. Bearing in mind the old promise, he returned to the native village, hoping to meet again his benefactor. Unfortunately, upon arrival, he learnt that the damsel had just passed away due to illness. In his great lament, the young man brought along his musical instrumentalist guild to pay tributes to the deceased and himself created a small, cylindrical drum with rice stuck against both drumheads in commemoration of the ill-fated girl. The strip from which the drum was hung was made of white cloth symbolizing the mourning band. And as he clapped the drumheads, the doleful sounds echoed his deep pain and the loss of his sweetheart
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