(VOVworld)- Located 3 km southeast of Soc Trang city, Doi (Bat) pagoda, also known as Mahatup and Ma Toc pagoda, is one of the most outstanding architectural complexes of Buddhist pagodas in southern Vietnam. The 3-hectare pagoda has been the home place of bats for several years. Over the the weekend, visitors to the pagoda are entertained with five-tone music played by local kids.
The children are on summer vacation, so they come to the pagoda to play music during the weekday instead of only Saturday and Sunday. Children range in age from 6 to 15 years old. They all seem to be passionate about traditional music. 15 year-old Do Minh Duong is teaching the kids to play music. Duong says:“On Saturday and Sunday, we play music for visitors. We have a teacher here. We have some new comers in our orchestra and I’m trying to help them. We have played a piece of sad music that is played at the funerals”.Duong is the most skilled one in the group although he has played this type of music for one year. He can play all instruments in the orchestra.
The five-tone orchestra is comprised of 5 materials: wood, bronze, iron, leather and percussion (breath). The drum is made of cow leather. Another instrument is Ronek, which is made of 26 wooden bars and assembled to one another in a chain. When playing the music, the players used two bamboo sticks to beat on the wood bars to create sound. Meanwhile, the basket Ronek has only 16 wooden bars. The Chling instrument of the Khmer is similar to the cymbals of the Kinh majority people. Sro Lay is a flute made of bamboo and precious wood. The orchestra also has a set of 16 small gongs
The five-tone orchestra can produce sophisticated folk and contemporary rhythm. But the kids only learn some easy pieces of music. 12 year old Duong Van Ninh says he is every excited about learning music: “I have been practicing for just 2 weeks. I have learned to play three songs. It’s very difficult. I play piece by piece”.The five-tone orchestra is closely associated with local people’s daily life. Every musical tone reflects the tones of their souls. The players are not professional ones, just ordinary people, even kids. This shows the vitality of this type of music. Duong says:“I have learned to play 50 songs. The kids in my group are very interested in this type of music and they learn very quickly”.
The five-tone music is deeply ingrained into Khmer culture and they are exposed to it from birth. The Khmer people are trying to preserve their folk music. In addition to the class in Doi pagoda, many classes have been opened to teach playing the music. Children are entrusted with preserving and promoting this folk music in the contemporary life.