QUANG NAM — Alang Vel's C on display in his house in the remote village of TaLang in Quang Nam Province show his love for the traditional music of the Co Tu ethnic group.
|Jump for Guoi : The Co Tu people play traditional musical instruments in front of a Guoi house. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Ky
Patriarch Alang Vel, who has spent his life making many musical instruments created and played by Co Tu people for years, is admired by both amateurs and professionals.
"By playing our musical instruments, people can see and feel Co Tu's culture and lifestyle," said the 89-year-old.
Many visitors are surprised by the depth of emotion and skill displayed by the artisan.
Using his knife, Alang Vel has made several kinds of instruments, including a khen (wind instrument with small bamboo tubes) and an apel (a stringed-instrument in wood), two of Co Tu's most popular instruments.
Born in a poor family in TaLang, a small village located in BhaLee Commune, Alang Vel has dedicated his life to music.
"I began playing traditional Co Tu music when I was 10," he said, making several instruments for his own performances.
Some of his most outstanding works include the atoong and ampraay, which are often stored and displayed in local communal houses, or guoi, around the region.
A guoi is the largest and tallest house in the community, located in the middle of the village and made from wood.
The house is used for meetings, rituals, performances and reception of special guests.
An atoong is made of seven wood tubes, one-metre long each. The tubes are attached together by two strings.
The instrument's music is sweet and strong, depicting the character of the Co Tu people, according to Alang Vel.
Another instrument, ampraay, is a collection of five bells made from a kind of fruit. Its tinkling is heard when the player pushes the instrument on the ground.
Alang Vel said the Co Tu people played their music at traditional festivals and rituals.
"Our instruments are simple in design, but they help the players share their passions and thoughts when playing," he said.
The artist has displayed and performed his works in HCM City and Da Nang, capturing the attention of many music lovers and folk-music and cultural researchers.
"I love travelling to play Co Tu music because the art helps people learn more about the Co Tu."
Most Co Tu people live in Quang Nam and Da Nang provinces. They believe and worship Giang (God).
Every year, the Co Tu hold dozens of minor and major rituals worshipping Giang to pray for good luck, good health and bumper crops. — VNS