Monochord > Zither > Chordophone.
Vietnam > South China > South East Asia.
Scale Length 78.4 cm.
Source: Vietnam > Randy Raine-Reusch.
The dan-bau is a monochord unique to Vietnam and in
Southern China a close relative of the dan-bau called the "Duxianqin".
The name Duxianqin, translates from Chinese to English as "single
stringed zither". This instrument is encountered among the Jing people
A Vietnamese legend speaks of a fairy who devised the
instrument for a blind woman so the sound resembled a human voice. The
dan bau was favored by blind musicians who performed epic narration.
Introduced into the Nguyen Court (1802-1945) at the end of the 19th
century. The dan bau became an important element in chamber music. After
WW2 the dan bau became a vehichle for virtuocity.
During performance a musician holds a small
15 cm bamboo stick in the left hand facilitating harmonics, and a wide
range of expression. While the right hand manipulates a "tremolo bar" of
sorts. Tuning the dan bau nowadays involves the attachment of a
machine-gear tuner from a electric bass guitar. The Dan-bau is usually
tuned to C but maybe tuned to other pitches depending on piece being
The dan-bau is assembled in a slender, tapered trapezium shape.
Recently smaller sized dan-bau's are more common place due to
portability and ease of storage. The electric dan-bau's have a door
hinge installed allowing the instrument to be folded when in
transport. Many of the "portable dan-bau" often have a single coil
electric pickup installed.
Reusch, Dan-bau @ Asza.com > Bibliography: New Grove
Dictionary of Music Vol. 1 A to F by Stanley Sadie Page 540 article
contributed by Trȧn Quang Hai.