Jaw Harp > Free-Reed > Aerophone.
China > South East Asia.
Ata are bamboo jaw harps of the Lahu people of Southern China, and
in Northern South East Asia. They are mainly played in pairs and
attached to each other by a length of string that ends at the bamboo
carrying case. Ata were traditionally used for courting, in two
different tunings. These instruments tuned a fifth apart were used
during intimate conversation between young people, and taken up
after the couple used the naw or hulusheng mouth organ to get
The ata are tuned a fourth apart; they were used by elderly people
to rekindle their feelings of youth, and for divorced or widowed
people to attract a new mate. A male and female designation is
applied to the ata in regarding the size. The lowest pitched of the
instrument is the male and the higher pitch instrument is the
female. Ata performed a musical code with each note corresponding to
a spoken syllable. Unfortunately these practices have disappeared
and these instruments are mainly made for tourists.
Asza.com Ata (article).