02/05/2015 09:24 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Researcher drafts solutions to revive “xoan” singing

Hanoi, May 1 (VNA) – Cultural researcher Vu Kim Bien from northern Phu Tho province has submitted an over 80-page manuscript to local authorities featuring ancient “xoan” singing as well as solutions to revive the practice in response to its recognition as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

In his research work, Bien introduced studies based on various documents he has collected over the years, proving this traditional art form dates back to the reign of the Hung Kings (more than 2,000 years ago) and was then developed in the Ly and post-Le dynasties (10th -18th centuries).

Traditionally, singers from xoan guilds performed in sacred spaces, such as temples, shrines and communal houses during spring festivals.

There are three kinds of xoan singing: songs of worship for Hung Kings and village guardian spirits; ritual songs for abundant crops, health and good luck; and festival songs, with villagers alternating male and female verses in a form of courtship.

The singing is accompanied by dance and musical instruments, such as clapping and drumming.

All pre-1945 xoan songs performed at the ancient guilds of An Thai, Kim Doi, Thet and Trung Hoi in Phu Tho province’s Viet Tri city were a direct descendant of those that originated in the 15 th century.

Bien also presented the number of verses and singers in 28 of the various xoan performances.

Each xoan guild is led by a “trum” who is able to read “Nom” (Vietnamised Chinese script) and includes six “Kep” (male singers) aged 19-20 and 12 “Dao” (female singers) aged 16-17.

Age and costumes are the two most distinctive features of xoan, varying from region to region.

Bien proposed provincial leaders promptly restore the xoan guilds in An Thai, Kim Doi, Thet and Trung Hoi in Viet Tri city according to pre-1945 criteria in terms of the number of male and female singers, age, costumes, and performance methods.

The province should also set up an advisory team of experts such as musician Cao Khac Thuy, researcher Pham Hung Thoan and artisans with rich experience in the field, he suggested.

He recommended training xoan guilds artisans to serve tourism markets and record a strong example of guild performance to submit to UNESCO for recognition as a universal outstanding intangible cultural heritage.