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koni - Vietnamese fiddle

The koni is a very unique form of stick fiddle found only in Vietnam. It originated as a one-string violin of the Jarai people who live in the south central highlands of Vietnam, and played in a half kneeling position, with the base of the instrument held to the ground between the toes of the left foot. The modern koni now has two strings and is held gripped between the player's legs while in a sitting position.

The koni does not have a resonating chamber or sound box.  Instead, attached to the bottom of the strings are two pieces of silk which run to a small bamboo or plastic disc held in the player's mouth. Thus the player's mouth acts as the resonating chamber. Precise movements of the player's lips and tongue create a vast array of tonal colour that give the koni it's unique sound.

The koni in its modern form is used by a small number of musicians associated with the Hanoi Conservatory of Music.

Country: Vietnam
Region: SE Asia
Type: bowed strings

©  R. Raine-Reusch, Jan. 1999