Type: Zither > Monochord.
Region: Vietnam > South East Asia.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.
Dimensions: Scale Length cm.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine Reusch @ asza.com (Trip to Vietnam).
Description: 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" who belongs to the Jing ethnic group of China. During performance the dan-bau is often resting on table or a flat surface, this creates the acoustic chamber. Recently dan-bau's are becoming shorter in length and are designed in such a way they can collapse in a folding manner due to a door hinge attached to the bottom. The dan-bau is placed on a surface such as a table, this creates the acoustic chamber.
Playing Techniques: The dan bau are playing involve the left hand manipulating a flexible piece of water buffalo horn or a thicker piece of bamboo serving as a “tremolo bar”. The right hand facilitates the harmonics by the use of of a small toothpick or bamboo chopstick. A melody rendered by a skillful musician the dan-bau is definitely something to hear. 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 a C but maybe tuned to other pitches depending on piece being played.
Construction: The dan-bau is assembled with a carved wooden surface, and elongated four corners in a wedged trapezium shape. Traditionally the body was constructed to be a single unit from several pieces of wood. Recently dan-bau's are becoming shorter in length and are designed in such a way they can collapse in a folding manner due to a door hinge attached to the bottom. This new design of the dan-bau allows for the instrument to be folded in two and stored in a small case. Many of the "portable dan-bau" often have a single coil electric pickup installed, which is a now a common feature available with the dan-bau.