Music seemed to be a running theme at this year’s AsiaFest in Plano. Organizations such as the Plano Symphony Orchestra to the Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra were well represented. Tables laden with instruments, old and new, were popular gathering spots.
One of the more interesting tables was run by Anh Q. Nguyen. You’ll see in the above video the instruments Nguyen was displaying at the event. Đàn in general means a string instrument. The categorical adjective term follows after the word Đàn.
Here are some excerpts from the website, which Nguyen kindly translated for us:
Đàn Kìm (Đàn nguyệt) has two strings and the resonator resembles the moon, that is probably why it is named Dan Nguyet, which means moon lute. The strings were traditionally made of silk but are today normally made of nylon, which can be strummed with either finger or pick. The Dan Nguyet provides a midrange pitch in traditional orchestras and is played in short, melodic passages.
Đàn Bầu: The first đàn bầu was made in 1770. At its first appearance it was a very simple instrument comprised of a bamboo section, a flexible rod, a calabash or half a coconut. After a process of evolution and improvement, the present form of the Dan Bau is a bit more sophisticated, yet still quite simple. Đàn Bầu in general consists of 4 components including soundboard (resonator), spout, gourd, string and tuning peg.
Đàn Tranh: The Đàn Tranh is also known as Đàn Thập Lục or sixteen-stringed zither. The Dan Tranh originates from the ancient capital city of Hue, where women once played it for royalty, and the instrument is still considered a symbol of the city.
Đàn Tỳ Bà: The Ty Ba is a four-string instrument which is frequently present in a traditional orchestra. Its soundbox is shaped like a pear cut in half lengthwise. Its soundboard is made of unvarnished light wood, and its back is made of hard wood with a slightly convex surface. The neck is short and tightly fixed to the soundbox. Originally the neck bore no frets; now, however, it has four frets in addition to eight others on the soundboard and two under the strings with the highest pitch.
Đàn Kìm and Đàn Bầu are Vietnamese instruments. However, Đàn tranh and Đàn Tỳ Bà have more of the Chinese origin.
You simply must visit the Latino Cultural Center in Deep Ellum. The absolutely gorgeous ceiling in the entryway (it’s in the video) is worth the trip alone. The 2010 Dallas Folklorico Festival was a real treat to the ears and the eyes. Folklorico, which basically means Mexican folk dancing, was full of color, authentic costumes and rivaled Dancing with the Stars in my book.
Finally, I rounded out my day at the Cottonwood Arts Festival. Of all the years I’ve attended, I think this one was my favorite. While there was live music and food vendors, it was the art that captivated everyone. You’ll see in the beginning of the video that lots of folks were the artists on Saturday! A couple of the participating artists (Marty Ruiz and Sharon Johnston) gave us a little insight as to their works, and the Rockin’ With Rhett band did an impromptu performance for our cameras!