Ancient rock music instruments found in Vietnamese highlands

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Bringing new definition to the term ‘rock music’, the Lam Dong Provincial museum announced the discovery of two sets ‘Dan Da’, or lithophones. a total of five sets have been found in the Lam Dong region, proving that Vietnam may just be the cradle of rock music. ;P

Stone musical instruments found in Lam Dong
Nhan Dan, 09 April 2009
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The Malay Nobat

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For anyone interested in the musical heritage of Malaysia, The Malay Nobat features articles and research about the royal orchestra used by the regional Sultans. From the website:

Malay Nobat

Nobat is a court orchestra played in Malay palaces as a symbol of power and sovereignty. No Malay sultan is legitimately installed unless he is drummed to the sounds of the nobat. Currently there are four nobat ensembles found in Malaysia, in the states of Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Terengganu. The other known Malay nobat which is still active is found in Brunei, a small oil-rich country sandwiched between the states of Sarawak and Sabah in East Malaysia. Nobat is also known to have existed in the ancient Malay sultanates of Pasai (now Acheh), Patani (Southern Thailand), Riau and probably other small provinces in Sumatera, Indonesia.

Raja Iskandar, the author behind the blog is a researcher currently looking into the Nobat of the Perak Sultanate. I was first drawn to the site because of the mention about the Nobat in the Malay Annals, a valuable quasi-historical account about the history of the Malacca Sultanate. The site also features short video clips of the Nobat performances, which are very rare because such music is very ritualistic and considered sacred.

Related Books:
The Music of Malaysia by P. A. Matursky and S. B. Tan
The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Performing Arts

Museum gets first Dong Son Drum

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15 March 2007 (Nhan Dan) – The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology receives donation of a Dong Son drum from a donor.

Museum gets first Dong Son Drum [Link no longer active]

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has added a Dong Son bronze drum to its collection thanks to a generous donation by a private collector.

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology has received a Dong Son bronze drum from Pham Dung, who teaches at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Culture. The more-than-2,000-year-old drum to the museum yesterday, nine years after he picked it up in Ninh Binh province.

On the drum, which was used in harvest prayer rituals, are etched four toads with their heads directed clockwise, and concentric circles around a sun in the centre from where a dozen intricate and exact rays spread out towards the edge.

Largest Ngoc Lu style bronze drum cast

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09 November 2006 (Thanh Nien News, Vietnam Net Bridge) – Craftsmen have cast a replica of the Ngoc Lu bronze drum. Not exactly archaeological news, but bears some potential for future experimental archaeology.

Largest Ngoc Lu style bronze drum cast

The drum is 1.51m in face diameter, 1.54m in bottom diameter and 1.21m in height and it was cast in under eight months, said Hoang Van Thong, Director of the Hoang Long Antique Museum in Thanh Hoa.

The drum will be displayed at the Hoang Long Antique Museum as of November 19, on the occasion of the inauguration of the museum.

Dong Son drum found in central province

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3 October 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge)

Vietnam Net Bridge, 3 Oct 2006

Dong Son drum found in central province

A Dong Son bronze drum was just unearthed in the central province of Quang Ngai where indications of the Sa Huynh culture had been found.

. . .

But as all the pieces were still at the place where it was buried, the measurements of its diameter and it height show that it was 44cm in diameter and 28cm high. Patterns on the drum’s surface could still be seen clearly.

On its surface there are 12 stars with the centre point was cast emerging. Surrounding the stars are striped lines. There are for carvings of toads at the edge of the drum surface.

Dong Son drum found by chance

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12 Sep 2006 (VietNam Net Bridge)

VietNam Net Bridge, 12 Sep 2006

Dong Son drum found by chance

A resident of the northern province of Ha Tay unearthed an ancient drum when he was building his house, an official of the local Department of Culture and Information said Monday.

Experts from the Vietnam History Museum tested the drum and came to conclusion that the 2000-year-old drum belongs to Dong Son Civilization.

Related Books:
– Bronze Dong Son Drums by Ha Thuc Can
Dong Son Drums in Viet Nam

Stone instrument turns up at unexpected place

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8 August 2006 (Viet Nam Net Bridge and Thanh Nien Daily) – The find of a stone instrument near the coast forces archaeologists to relook at their origins – they were previously only found in highland or mountain regions.

Thanh Nien News, 8 Aug 2006

Ancient musical instrument unearthed in Vietnam

A musical instrument made of stone, thought to be centuries old, has been discovered on a beach in south-central Vietnam.

The dan da (lithophone), which was in Binh Thuan province, possibly belongs to the Sa Huynh Culture, which existed between the second and early nineteenth centuries.

Viet Nam Net Bridge, 8 Aug 2006

Ancient instrument rewrites theory

According to experts from the museum, these finds are a Dan Da, a stone instrument made by ancient peoples in the neolithic era.

However, these were all found in highlands or mountain areas, and archaeologists had thought Dan Da were only made by ancient highland tribes. With recently discovery, the hypothesis must be reconsidered as Ham My is very close to the coast.

Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)
Early Civilizations of Southeast Asia by D. J. W. O’Reilly
Early Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia

Da Lat hosts Central Highland cultural heritage display

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18 May 2006 (Thanh Nien Daily)

Da Lat hosts Central Highland cultural heritage display

An exhibition of cultural artifacts of Vietnam’s Central Highlands region opened Thursday in the resort town of Da Lat in Lam Dong province.

On display are also a Dong Son bronze drum unearthed in Dak Lak province, and artifacts excavated at the archaeological sites of Cat Tien in Lam Dong, Bien Ho in Gia Lai, and Lung Leng in Kon Tum.

Related Books:
Bronze Dong Son Drums by Ha Thuc Can
Van Hoa Dong Son / Dong Son Culture – Its Unity and Diversity by Pham Minh Huyen
Vietnamese art and archaeology by O. R. T. Janse