World Flutes Master
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The Bahnar ethnic group is a large ethnic group in the Central Highlands. They live mainly in Gia Lai and KonTum provinces. Its population is ranked the third following Gia Rai and Ede. Bahnar people are very fond of music and dance. Ala flute is the most favorite instrument among those used in daily activities.

Ala flute is a musical instrument of airophonic family, reed branch. Ala is a ornless bamboo section, 30-40 cm in length, 1.5 cm in diameter and two ends are open. At one end, a bamboo reed is put on the section’s body, a rectangular hole of 4 cm in length, 1.5 cm in width. According to "Traditional musical instrument of Vietnam" written by Le Huy, the reed is also made of bronze. The place where the reed is put is a blowing piece covered with beeswax or resin, 2 cm higher than the surface of the bamboo section.

Ala has three pressing holes. When performing, the player holds the full reed part in his/her mouth and air from it will make the reed shake and the air inside the section move and create sounds. The player uses his/her forefinger, middle finger and ring finger of the right hand to open and close the pressing holes, while the thumb of the left-hand closes a part of the head of section to create glissando and gliding tones for melodies of flute.

Following is a tone range of Ala flute: Do2-Re2-Fa#2-Sol2-Do2

According to the author Dao Huy Quyen (Traditional musical instruments of the Giarai and Bahnar ethnic group), if an instrumentalist plays well, he can produce a tone that is even an octave lower than the known lowest tone namely C. There is no tone between the two C tones. According to him, the tone range is: Do-Do1-Re1-Fa#1-Sol1-La1.
Its sound is warm, vague and attractive. Ala is opening, feeling voice of Bahnar’s young fellows after a hard working day.
Text and Photos courtesy by Vietnam Datacommunication Company (VDC)
and Vietnamese Institute for Musicology (V.I.M)