Various Artists

The Art of the Khen

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The khèn is a mouth organ found throughout Southeast and East Asia. This instrument is apparently the origin of the Western accordion and harmonica, and it may differ quite considerably from one people to another. Of the two instruments heard on this CD, the Hmong khèn has six bamboo pieces, while the Vietnamese/Thai khèn has between 14 and 16 pieces. In Japan, the "sho" has 13 pieces, and in China some versions can have up to 17 pieces and more. The technique used to produce the sounds remains the same for all of these instruments. Inside each bamboo piece there is a small reed with an adjacent hole; by closing the hole with a finger, the reed vibrates when the musician blows in the instrument. On this CD, listeners hear Hmong and Thai music; the khèn has been an important instrument in the respective musical traditions of both cultures.

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