Naw_ (gender unknown)

Mouth organ with a gourd as wind chest

Identical types: 21

Laˇhu_ nyiˉ (Red Lahu) people (provinces Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai), Laˇhu_ shi (Yellow Lahu), and Laˇhu_ naˆ (Black Lahu), a Christian minority in North Thailand; Traditionally it has 5 pipes; Of its 3 sizes, the medium one is played the most; The instrument is played by men/boys and women/girls, but only men accompany the dances around the New Year’s tree (For this occasion the Black Lahu extend the mouthpiece of their Naw_, by adding a socket, made of pumpkin shaft, in which a bamboo tube is inserted; This construction makes playing easier, because the arms do not have to be bent as much); Dances at the Moon Festival in the village temple are mainly accompanied by women; Love songs are played by girls and boys; On the 3rd day of the New Year 5 Black Lahu men play their Naw_ simultaneously; Among the Laˇhu_ shehˇ lehˉ minority (Shehleh Lahu, provinces Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai) women and alcoholics are not allowed to play the mouth organ; In some houses, mainly in the dwellings of village priests, several instruments can be found (Schwörer states that 6 instruments were counted in 1 hut only); According to Blench the "open ends [of the pipes; ws] appear flush with the bottom of the gourd wind chamber, which allows the player to "bend" the notes by slowly covering the ends of the pipes with the right thumb while playing. The technique is difficult, and the resulting music is very lively and quite loud. Traditionally this instrument also played a coded language, used for unmarried people to converse with"; NB¹: ➺ Ho (China).

Length of the pipes of a medium-sized instrument (e.g.): 1: 390 mm, 2: 390 mm (lowest tone!), 3: 243 mm, 4: 213 mm, 5: 180 mm; Because each pipe has a fingerhole (or thumbhole), it would imply a range of 5 tones, e.g. c¹-f¹-g¹-a¹-c² (➺ p.102; NB²: the 1st pipe produces f¹; the 2nd pipe c¹); These are used in love songs, but the Red Lahu extend the range with 2 tones by closing the lower end of the 1st and 2nd pipes with the right thumb; In principle the Black Lahu apply this technique to the 1st pipe only, but for ornamentation purposes they can stop the 2nd and 5th pipes, if required (Example: Schwörer, p.106, large Naw_: f¹-d♭¹-d¹-b♭-g♯²-a²-c♯³-a² [tones with underscore represent stopped pipes 1, 2, and 5]); Players of the Yellow Lahu (Laˇ hu_ shi, who live in the Christian village Hoe ̬ Luˆ Hk’aˆ, prov. Chiang Rai) apply the technique to all 5 pipes (i.e. pipe 1: c²/e♭², 2: a¹/b♭¹, 3: d²/f², 4: f♯¹/g², 5: a♭²-b♭²), resulting in the range: pipe 2: a¹-b♭¹, 1: c², 3: d², 1: e♭², 3: f², 4: f♯¹-g², 5: a♭²-b♭².
NB: Example(s) to be replaced with staff-notation.


Schwörer, Gretel: Die Mundorgel bei den Laˇ Hu_ in Nord-Thailand: Bauweise, Funktion und Musik, 1: Darstellung. Hamburg, 1982, p.35-48, 100-102, 106, 119, 137, 167, 169.

Oesch, Hans (ฮัน เออซ): The music of the hilltribes in northern Thailand (= การศึกษาดนตรีของซาวเบาทางภากเหนือบองประเทศไทย [Kār ṣ̄ụks̄ʹā dntrī k̄hong chāw beā thāng p̣hākh h̄enụ̄o k̄hong pratheṣ̄thịy (?)]). In: Jl. Nat. res. council of Thailand 11;2 (Bangkok, 1979), p.23 (no.4), 24 (no.7).

Blench, Roger: The history and distribution of the free-reed mouth-organ in SE Asia (presented at the 14th EurASEAA meeting, Dublin, September 2012 (Draft submitted for proceedings, 2012), p.11 (naw).