Name: Ata.

Type: Jaw Harp > Free-Reed > Aerophone.

Region: Southern China > South East Asia.

Description: 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 acquainted.

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.

Citations: Randy Raine-Resuch @ Ata (article).