The Guzheng of China, Tranh (16 stringed zither) of Vietnam, Koto of Japan and Kayagam of South Korea were played at the First ASEAN Zither Festival in Ho Chi Minh City.
A concerto of Kayagam (South Korea) and the 16-stringed tranh (Vietnam)
Although they originated from an ancient Chinese zither, in each country, they have been reformed in shape, structure, material and performance technique to manifest people's feelings. To enhance the friendship and mutual understanding among neighbouring Asian countries, Vietnam hosted the First Asian Zither Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, with the participation of artists from Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
The Japanese artists presented two Koto musical schools, including the Chikushi, introduced by artist Miyagi Kanami, and the Ikutaryu, introduced by artist Kazuno Urasoe. Through the melodies of the Koto zithers, which were accompanied by flutes, or played in a concerto with the zithers of the National Flower Troupe that presented old and new musical pieces, the audience seem to see the natural Japanese landscapes with cherry blossoms, the Mt. Fuji and young girls in their national dress. The Tranh zither is small and has 16 iron strings, hence it is also called the 16-stringed zither, while the Koto zither, made of wood, is bigger and has 13 strings. When played with an ivory square-pointed plectrum worn on a finger, the Koto zither produces low timbre in deliberate rhythms.
Three artists from Singapore brought to the festival some new works, including the "Beauty of the Red River", which was composed for the festival and reflected through the Guzheng zither. The Guzheng zither is close to the Vietnamese Tranh zither, but its playing technique, by the left hand, and the number of strings (normally 21 strings) are different. Its string size is bigger, thus giving it a distinctive timbre.
The 5-day festival was an opportunity for the artists to introduce the distinctive features of the traditional musical instruments of their countries and boost their interaction as well.
By Duc Ngoc