Flute


Texts, photos, videos : © Patrick Kersalé 1998-2020, except special mention.


Ratanakiri. Kreung. duar flute

The Kreung block flute (duar) is made from bamboo thatch. It is pierced with seven square, equidistant playing holes. Its particularity is that the playing holes are not on the axis of the bevel on which the air blade breaks, but at 90° on the side. We do not know the symbolic reason for this. Moreover, the playing holes are square, perhaps because they can be easily made with the tool used to shape the whole, whereas the round holes require a burn hole. The equidistance of the play holes is dictated by tradition. It is an instrument of entertainment. Like all the music of the minorities of this region, the melodies are short and repeated ad infinitum.

You will find below, a sequence showing the making of such a flute.

 

 

Playing a bamboo flute

This sequence was shot in the kreung village of Laeun Chuong (Ratanakiri) on December 29, 2010. The flautist, Mr. Cheunk Ngon, was 60 years old. 


Making a bamboo flute (1)

We propose hereafter two complementary videos showing the making of a duar flute with slightly different approaches.

This bamboo flute making was captured in January 2012 in the kreung village of Kro Pou (Ratanakiri). It is an exceptional document from a musicological point of view because it testifies to the system of thought of the Kreung and, in a general way, of the ethnic groups of this region. 


The only traditional measuring tools are body dimensions and the relationships between them. The long-handled knife, wedged under the arm, is used by all the ethnic groups of the region. The blade always works outwards. The gestures are precise. What it is advisable to retain on the manufacture itself:

  • The proportions of the diameter of the bamboo
  • Proportionality transfer for light (opening at the bevel)
  • Proportional shift for determining the position of the first playing hole
  • Proportional shift between each playing hole 
  • Proportional shift for the diameter of the square clearance holes.

Making a bamboo flute (2)

This flute was made in the forest directly at the foot of the bamboo bunches. The making, between the cutting of the bamboo and the final phase, lasted 15 minutes. As it is, the flute is unusable because it is necessary to arrange the pipe with beeswax ...


We discover, through these two making examples, that it is not the ear that determines the pitch of sounds, but a proportion system dictated by tradition. The same applies to the manufacture of all objects in the forestry human societies of this region (musical instruments, house, rice granaries, furniture, tools, etc).

We think that the ear was forged on the basis of these instruments with this proportional manufacture. In our film Musiques aux pays des bambous, we can see, in time code 16'07, the making of a bamboo Panflute for which again the body dimensions guide the dimensioning of the pipes.

 

 

Mondulkiri. Bunong. nhom flute

The Bunong flute (nhom) is made of bamboo stubble. It has four circular or square playing holes and a triangular light. The blowing channel is made with beeswax. It is an instrument to be used for entertainment during hunting in the forest, after setting fishing nets, while waiting to raise them, while watching over rice fields, or while guarding livestock. There is a taboo forbidding to play this flute in the village … which was not respected by the musician we recorded. But there is the world of the past and the world of today …

Pu Tam village n°4. December 11, 2010. 

This Bunong musician plays a bamboo block flute called nhom. The sequence is embellished with images of domesticated elephants, evocative of a world that has now disappeared. Let us recall that the Bunong were, a few decades ago, the masters of elephants.

 



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