01/11/2015 10:27 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Traditional Music Classes

Established in 2005 in a small house near the ancient communal house of Hao Nam, the Vietnam Music Development Centre  has organised many classes to teach traditional Vietnamese musical forms, involving the participation of a  large number of people.
In a cultural space of the serene ancient communal house, students of different ages are engulfed in lessons on playing traditional musical instruments  and singing Ca Tru (ceremonial singing), Xam (an art form which has existed for centuries and was very popular in the rural areas of the northern plains in the past) and Quan ho (love duet) taught by People’s Artist Pham Dinh Khang and artist Thao Giang who founded and run the centre.

With a desire to preserve and bequeath the traditional Vietnamese folk music genres to younger generations,  artists  Pham Dinh Khang and Thao Giang established the Vietnam Music Development Centre where students are taught to perform with drums, flutes and castanets and singing folk music with a different method – without any manuals but approaching music directly in a natural and easy to understand manner.


Artist Thao Giang shows his students how to use Senh (clappers) in Xam singing. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP


Artist  Thao Giang  teaches students how to perform with traditional musical instruments
at Hao Nam Communal House. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP



Artist Thao Giang teaches students how to use the drum in Xam singing. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP

Over the years, artist Thao Giang who is both a teacher and deputy director of the centre and other artists have wholeheartedly devoted themselves to researching and restoring ancient lyrics of Xam, Hat van, Trong quan and Quan ho to teach their students and  make them public.

In 2005, the centre, for the first time, organised successfully a Xam performance at the gate of Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi, bringing Xam singing, a music genre which has existed for 700 years and is now on the brink of being lost, to contemporary life. The programme is regularly held at the market and receives loud applause from Vietnamese of all walks of life and foreign tourists.

Thanks to the programme, more people  know about the centre and about 200 students from universities registered to attend classes on Xam, musical instruments, castanets and drums, free of charge at the centre. There, they are taught by famous artists such as Xuan Hoach and  Emeritus Artists Thanh Ngoan and Thuy Ngan who have devoted their lives to the traditional Vietnamese music. From these classes, many young students like Mai Duc Thien, Duc Huy, Huu Duy, Kieu Loan and Thu  Phuong have had success in their career.

Together with restoring and promoting Xam singing, since June 2007 the centre has opened classes in Ca tru free of charge. In 2008 alone, the centre taught 70 students and the 10 best of them are selected to participate in the centre’s programmes. The centre has so far collected about 100 lyrics of  Xam and Trong quan singing.
 

A Ca tru performance by students of  the Vietnam Music Development Centre. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP


Students of the Vietnam Music Development Centre perform Quan ho singing.
Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP



Students of the Vietnam Music Development Centre perform with traditional musical instruments
in the courtyard of Hao Nam Communal House. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP



A student of the Vietnam Music Development Centre plays Dan nhi (a bowed string musical instrument).
Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP



The item of “The Xam Couple” by students of the Vietnam Music Development Centre. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
 
According to artist Thao Giang, traditional music is the voice of the people who have composed and preserved them for years. Many traditional music genres, such as Quan ho, Ca tru and Don ca tai tu have been recognised as the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. However, these music genres are orally transmitted from generation to generation so they face the risk of being lost. With its great contributions, the centre has helped preserve and promote the quintessence of traditional Vietnamese music.
 
Story: Vinh Hung - Photos: Trinh Van Bo