Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Jawharps.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 121.222
Region: South East Asia.
Description: The Ata is a bamboo jaw harp from the Lahu peoples of Southern China and Northern South East Asia [Thailand, Myanmar, Laos or the “golden triangle” region]. Traditionally it was played during courting. Currently this instrument is mainly made four tourists. Bamboo and metal versions are available.
Playing Techniques: They are played in pairs and are attached to each other by a common string that ends at a bamboo carrying case. Ata were traditionally used for courting, in two different tunings.
Instruments tuned a fifth apart were used for intimate conversations between young people. The ata a is taken up after the couple used the naw or hulusheng mouth organ to get acquainted.
Usage: Instruments tuned a fourth apart were used by older people to rekindle the feelings of youth and for divorced or widowed people to attract a new mate. The higher pitched of the pair is considered the female instrument and the lower a male.
Ata performed a musical code with each note corresponding to a spoken syllable. Unfortunately these practices have disappeared and now these instruments are made primarily for tourists.
Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com [Ata Article] ;