Lithophone – singing stone, oldest musical instrument of ethnic people in Central Highlands of Vietnam

Baku, September 29, AZERTAC

If Azerbaijan’s Gobustan State Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its ancient music instrument called Gavaldash (tambourine stone), the Central Highlands of Vietnam can boast with its lithophone, which is “goong lu” in the language of M’Nong ethnic group, meaning “stone sounds like gong”.
Producing a sound akin to Gobustan’s Gavaldash, lithophone is the oldest musical instruments of the ethnic people in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
While the Gavaldash of Gobustan Reserve found in Jingirdagh is shaped as two pillow-shaped large stones on a hill-slope, with the third stone considerably flatter than the other two lying underneath, Vietnam’s lithophone is made of stone bars with different length and thickness.
The longer and larger the bar, the lower the sound. The shorter, smaller and thinner the bar, the higher the sound.
In 2005, the lithophone was listed by UNESCO as a musical instrument in the Central Highlands space of gong culture.
In Vietnam, the first lithophone set was discovered by the French ethnologist Georges Condominas in 1949 in N’dut Lieng Krat, a village of M’Nong Gar people in Krong No commune, Lak district, Dak Lak province.
This about 3000-year-old lithophone is now on display in the Museum of Man in Paris, France.
In Dak Nong, there were two lithophones found respectively in 1993 and in 2014. At present, both lithophones are preserved and displayed at the Dak Nong Museum.
The first lithophone was discovered at Dak Kar stream in Quang Tin commune, Dak R’Lap district, Dak Nong province and named Dak Kar lithophone. According to the research results of the scientists, it is about 2500 years old, made from cordierite hornstone.
Through milling and processing, prehistoric people created a complete lithophone consisting of 3 bars: T’ru (father) bar, T’ro (mother) bar and Te (child) bar.
The second lithophone was discovered in 2014 in Dak Son village, Nam Xuan commune, Krong No district, Dak Nong province and was named Dak Son lithophone.
Dak Son lithophone consists of 16 bars, of which 11 bars were intact, 5 bars were broken in two or more sections but could be patched up to the original form.
Based on the manufacture technique, sound frequency and arrangement into instrument sets through the sound frequency of music sciences, the scientist confirmed that Dak Son lithophone is of the tradition of N’Dut Lieng Krak, a collection of ancient lithophone dating back to about 3,000 years ago.
For M’Nong people in Dak Nong UNESCO Global Geopark, the lithophone shows the harmony and the conquest of human with the nature.
As Azerbaijan’s famous Gavaldash, this instrument was also performed during dancing and singing ceremonies, as well as festivals such as Yang worship, New rice ceremony and etc.
The ancient people assumed that the lithophone’s sound was a means of connecting human beings to heaven and earth, connecting the past with the present and bring people to prosperous future.

Culture 2022-09-29 14:42:00