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Cong Chieng – Central Highlands’ Music
The Cong Chieng is a kind of musical instrument casted from mixed copper and belongs to the idiophonic family. In Vietnamese language, the word “Cong” points to a musical instrument with a bossed part in center (bossed gong) and “Chieng” without it (flat gong).
The Cong Chieng can be struck with wooden sticks, mallets, or even bare hands. There are various techniques that can be used to shut off sounds and to produce melodies.
The Cong Chieng may be played one at a time or in groups of 2 to 20 units. They are mainly used in offerings, rituals, funerals, wedding ceremonies, New Year’s festivities, agricultural rites, victory celebrations, etc.
In some ethnic minority groups, the Cong Chieng is only intended for men to play. However, the sac bua gongs of the Muong group are played by women. In other ethnic groups, both men and women may play the instrument. In general, taboos regarding cong-chieng customs differ from ethnicity to ethnicity.
The Cong Chieng bears great significance and value for many ethnic groups in Tay Nguyen where almost every family has at least one set of the Cong Chieng. Tay Nguyen Gong Music is a unique kind of music that has religious and artist values. It also represents time-honored culture and communal spirit of local ethnic groups. The space of gong culture in Central Highlands was recognized by UNESCO as an oral-transmitted masterpiece and intangible cultural heritage of the humanity in 2005.