Odds are, when you think of "HMong flute," the sound(s) you are thinking of come from the raj nplaim qab ntev. Traditionally, these were the largest size Hmong free-reed flutes came in—however, nowadays, there are even larger flutes. Raj nplaim qab ntev produce a low, mellow, and somber sound that is the iconic Hmong traditional music sound so often heard in films. They're often associated with talk about heartache, yearning, and sadness, but can also used to speak about love, romance, and courtship, such as with the raj nplaim qab luv. These are expertly crafted by Vahcha Lor (Vam Tshaj Lauj) in Luang Prabang, Laos.
I work in close relation with artisans to ensure all instruments I provide produce the best possible quality sound. Because each and every one of these instruments are hand-made, they will each sound slightly different to the trained ear; the differences coming from both the artisans' individual works and the differences between every piece of bamboo and brass.
Tus tswv uas txua cov raj nplaim no hu ua Vam Tshaj xeem Lauj, nyob tom Luam Phab Npas, Teb Chaw Nplog. Txhua cov tswv uas kuv ua hauj lwm nrog, yeej yog cov uas txawj ntaus, los sis txawj hlais thiab txawj txua peb Hmoob teb mi raj thiab ncas, los mus rau qeej. Suab txawv ces yuav yog txawv ntawm xyoob ntawm ntoo los xwb.
Raj Nplaim Qab Ntev | Large Hmong Free-Reed Flute
These raj nplaim measure between 36 inches (91.5 cm) and 42 inches (107 cm) long and approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter/thickness.
The free–reed is made from hand-smithed brass, the body of the flute is made from dried and cured bamboo.