Pythagorus and the Vietnamese Dan Bau

Practicing on other instruments can be a nice break from always struggling with the same sound-making device day after day, and I find that making sound with a variety of instruments gives me a more well-rounded understanding of music in general. The Dan Bau is a good example.

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

As I work on the book, I’ve had to do a little research into some of the many instruments I own, one of which, given to me by a neighbor, I knew nothing about. Here’s a picture of it:

It’s got only one string, which is why Pythagoras is mentioned in the title of the post. One of the things Pythagoras is famous for is his work on the vibrations of strings and how the ratios produce different tones. Touch a vibrating string lightly in its exact middle and the tone will sound an octave higher than the open string. Other ratios

English: Illustration of harmonic overtones on...

produce other tones.

Anyway, I’ve been messing around with the instrument for the last year or two, but had no idea what it was or how to play it correctly. Finally, I did some poking around and found a sticker that gave me enough information to discover that it’s a Vietnamese instrument called a Dan Bau. If played correctly it has a haunting sound that is quite pleasing. Here’s are a couple videos of the instrument in action, played by someone who knows what she’s doing:

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

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