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Kenh is a multiphonic wind Khen with the free vibrated reed of the H’Mong ethnic group.

Kenh has 6 bamboo sections, with the diameter of 1-1.5 cm and the length of 48-97 cm (for high khen) or 60-120 cm (for bass khen). The bamboo sections are placed in two parallel rows and laid through a wooden box with the length of 74 cm (blow-pipe). Each of the 5 small sections has a bronze reed and a large bamboo section has two reeds.

Being the instrument for men, used to perform as solo or as ensemble and accompany dancing, its sound is cheerful, strong and rhythmical. It is suitable for entertaining activities in festival days and courtship activities of H’Mong’ youth.
Khen Be

Khen Be is a reed airophonic instrument of Thai ethnic group. It is known in Thai language as Ken Pe or Pi Pe.

Khen Be comprises 14 hornless bamboo tubes of 1cm diameter each. Each tube possesses a bronze or silver reed. In fact, only 13 tubes can produce sounds while the rest tube simply functions as decoration for the symmetry of the instrument. All tubes are bound together into 2 rows making 7 pairs of tubes of the same length (ranging from 61 to 93cm). However, the real length that affects the produced sound depends on a hole perforated on the inner side of each tube. Near the reed, another hole known as fingering hole is made at the outer side of tube. To get sound of each tube, instrumentalist has to cover that tube's fingering hole in order to force the reed vibrated. The sound box of Khen Be is made from a light, flexible and veined wood, and therefore it rarely has cracks. Reeds of tubes are hidden in the sound box. After laying tubes through the sound box, people smear apertures between tubes and sound box with black beeswax.

Khen Be is the multiphonic instrument with wide sound range of almost 2 octaves including La1, Do, Re, Fa, Sol, La, Do1, Re1, Fa1, Sol1.

Khen Be can be played by both blowing ways including breathing in and breathing out. Khen Be is the exclusive instrument of men and played in entertainment activities. It is usually used accompanying singing and dancing in the moonlight. As nights fall down, young men come and play Khen below houses-on-stilts of their beloved girls to open their hearts. Sometimes, Khen is played during working time such as on the way to the paddies. In short, Khen Be is the multiphonic instrument of high professionalism in music arts of Thai people.
Text and Photos courtesy by Vietnam Datacommunication Company (VDC)
and Vietnamese Institute for Musicology (V.I.M)