The first time I played my musical instrument for my friends at Juniata, called a Dan Tranh (a 16-string plucked zither, from my country, Vietnam) all of my friends were so astonished about its sound. Everyone tried guessing what the pictures encrusted with mother of pearl on it meant. Then they tried to play it. They asked me so many questions, I decided to ask students what other traditional musical instruments international students have brought to Juniata.
Cai Ziting ’14 – international student from China:
I play Erhu, usually known as Chinese violin or Chinese two-stringed fiddle. The sound body of the Erhu is a drum-like little case usually made of ebony or sandalwood and snake skins. The resonance case’s function is to amplify the vibrations of the strings. I chose to learn Erhu not only because of its pretty sound but also its cultural meaning. It sounds similar to human voice and can imitate many natural sounds such as bird and horse. It is most well-known for playing melancholic tune, but also able to play merry melody. Its origin dtaes to the Tang dynasty (618-907), so Erhu is a symbol for our long and valuable music traditions.
Khine Sein ’14 – international student from Myanmar:
I play ‘Si ne Wa’, a set of Myanmar traditional musical instruments including bells and castanets. ‘Si’ is a pair of small metal bells, which are sounded when struck together. ‘Wa’ is castanets, a member of the concussion family. Traditionally played by clicking in one hand, these castanets are small shell-shaped clappers made from a length of bamboo.. They are used in many of our traditional festivals because of their joyful sound. ‘Si ne wa’ are played above the head by parting the split end and banging together in time.
Jieping Chu ’14 – international student from China:
I play Guzheng, a traditional Chinese plucked zither – one of the most ancient Chinese musical instruments, which originated over 2300 years (before 206 BC). It has from 13 to 21 strings and movable bridges. By using different techniques of playing, players can create sounds that can evoke the sense of a cascading waterfall, thunder, horses’ hooves, and even the scenic countryside. The first time I heard Guzheng, I was totally attracted by its sound. Few instruments have remained as unchanged and yet stayed as vibrantly relevant to our culture at large as the Guzheng.
Muhammad Habib – exchange student from Bangladesh:
Our country has a good number of musical instruments originally of our own. Among many of our traditional instruments, such as Dhole — wooden drums, Ektara — a single-stringed instrument, Dotara – a four-stringed instrument, Mandira – a pair of metal balls used as rhythm instrument. I chose to learn Bansi – our traditional bamboo flute because of my love for folk songs and of its pretty sound. The Bansi occupies pride of place amongst the wind instruments because of its superb melody. An inseparable part of our folksongs, tradition and myth, the tune of the bamboo flute touches many a heart with its evocation of rural Bangladesh.
-Thanh Nguyen’14, Juniata Online Journalist