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  • Trân Quang Hai

Extract

Idioglot jew’s harp of the Hmong people of northern Vietnam, Laos, northeastern Thailand, Myanmar, and southern China. It is a brass or bamboo strip about 2 or 3 mm thick, 9.5 to 14 cm long, and 1.5 cm maximum width, tapering towards one end. The tapered end can be shaped as an isosceles triangle, and the other end extends as a narrow handle. A long, V-shaped or stepped tongue is cut in a thinned area of the strip, which thus frames the tongue and is held between the lips; the player rhythmically plucks the free end of the frame to vibrate the tongue, meanwhile blowing and sucking air through the frame to control the sound. A cord, sometimes threaded through old coins, passes through a tubular wooden case and is fastened to the instrument to draw it into the case when not in use. The jew’s harp is a favourite courting instrument among young Hmong people....

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