The Giay in Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province, have a rich culture that includes music and musical instrument. The Pi Le clarinet is a typical woodwind instrument of the Giay.
Each Giay hamlet has a Pi Le troupe.
The Pi Le clarinet is a part of all important events of the Giay as they believe that the sound of the Pi Le connects live people with spirits and deities of the heaven, earth, forests, and mountains. The Pi Le clarinet also lets people express their feelings to others.
Hoang A Hu of Ban Ven hamlet says every Giay hamlet has a Pi Le troupe that performs at communal events. A Pi Le troupe has 4 people who play Pi Le clarinet, drumps, bamboo flute, and cymbals.
The Pi Le woodwind has a bronze mouthpiece and a bell. The tube is 30 to 40cm long and has 7 open holes. The player blows into the Pi Le and fingers the holes to make different sounds.
A Hu said, “I’m a Giay man and I love my group’s traditional musical instrument. Playing the Pi Le is a way to preserve Giay culture.”
The Giay have melodies that express the mood and atmosphere of any event: joy at a wedding ceremony, sadness at a funeral, and excitement at a festival. The Pi Le is only played at important events.
Nguyen Van Tam, Vice Chairman of Ban Qua commune’s People’s Committee, said the Giay have a rich and diverse culture, exemplified by the Pi Le instrument and melodies.
“Ban Qua hamlet has encouraged Pi Le players to teach young people to play this traditional musical instrument and form more Pi Le troupes,” Tam said.
Ethnic people now have access to modern musical instruments, but the Giay in Bat Xat district still treasure the Pi Le clarinet as an important part of their culture. VOV