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Village nurtures Hue royal court music

Quang Xa village in the central province of Quang Binh is known as a centre for Hue royal court music, being home to scores of musicians that keep Vietnamese court singing alive.

According to village records, mandarin Nguyen Van Thua of Quang Xa village was dispatched to Hue on administrative business in the 18th century. He discovered that he loved Hue singing and travelled around the city to learn the art. He then brought Hue singing back to Quang Xa and introduced it to the villagers. Hue singing gradually became the village’s speciality and eventually began attracting visitors from all over the province.


Located between the Kien Giang and Long Dai rivers, the village is like a musical note according to Feng Shui principal, a comparison many musicians have made in their compositions. The villagers have been absorbed in music since their childhood that they all know and enjoy Hue singing.


Duong Thi Doanh, 70, is a well-known singer in Quang Xa village. She said local villagers live by farming, weaving another part time job, often gathers groups of seven people to work and sing together. “We learn singing by word of mouth and we like to sing traditional melodies,” Ms Doanh said.


Nguyen Van Doi, 54, is also passionate about the music. “I love Hue music like the Cheo opera,” he said. “Both the Hue royal court music and Cheo (traditional opera), which has its roots in the northern province of Thai Binh, depict the close relations between people. Vietnamese folk songs always praise people, the country and the friendship.”


Vice chairman of Tan Ninh communal People’s Committee Nguyen Quang Hoan said Hue singing in the village attracts listeners because it is unique. “Listening to Hue folk songs, you feel as if you were in Hue. Locals like to sing and they sing, very beautifully,” he said.


Whenever the singing festival comes, every family member wants to join. Senior singer Duong Thi Doanh said all the villagers like to sing, especially on National Day (September 2) and during the traditional lunar New Year festival, when the village is filled with singing. Everyone in the family wants to join the show or come to the festival, therefore, they have a unique tradition, where families draw straws to decide who will go and who will stay.


Hue music has thrived in Quang Xa for six generations. All the villagers learn by heart traditional melodies such as Nam Ai, Nam Bang, Luu Thuy, Kim Tien, Xuan Phong and Long Ho.


The Quang Xa Festival now includes not only Hue singing, but also Quan Ho folk singing, Xam (Vietnamese chants) and modern music. Several local musicians have won awards at regional festivals.


Quang Xa is also home to many respected musicians, such as president of the Vietnam Musical Band in Quang Binh province Duong Viet Chien, president of the Vietnam Musical Band in Lam Dong province Duong Manh Dat, president of the Vietnam Musical Band in Binh Dinh province Duong Viet Hoa, and music teacher at Hue Arts University, Duong Bich Ha.

VOV - (17/04/2006)

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