Saturday, December 3 2016

VietNamNews

Man brings back Bana music

Update: August, 26/2016 - 09:00
Kaly Trần is the man who revives traditional music of Bana people. Photo baomoi.com
Viet Nam News

A musician who was an orphan found that he had a great passion for music.

Especially the music of the BaNa people.

Kaly Trần remembered how they played their traditional musical instruments.

As he grew older, he found that few people knew about them.

So, he worked on developing the old instruments and he put together a band. 

by Mộc Miên

Kaly Trần has just finished his show late on a hot summer night in the hustle and bustle of HCM City. His forehead is sweating yet his lips smile proudly. Hardly anyone can imagine that this well-built Bana man is so interested in Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) music and is spending a lot of time leading a musical troupe of his own. We sit quietly side by side in a street café and Trần cannot help expressing his emotions and thoughts: “I had a special family background. I was sent to an orphanage when I was a little child. My love for music grew day by day through the activities and services at the orphanage.”

In his memory, decades ago the BaNa ethnic people led a poor life, yet every household had their own t’rưng and k’long put instruments and gongs. When it came to the harvest or festivals, villagers gathered together, playing instruments and drinking rượu cần (tube wine) until everyone got drunk.

“When I went to high school, I found that no young people played instruments. BaNa families hung the gongs on the wall or even sold them at the market. It was pretty sad.” He said.

In 2015, after his graduation from the Military University of Culture and Arts, Trần decided to return to his home village to teach children to play instruments, and to gather adults to set up a music troupe. In order to be able to afford his dream, Trần had to perform on several pop music stages around HCM City. Whenever he has free time, he takes a bus back to the village.

In the beginning, it was very hard to persuade villagers to join hands with him. Most of them said: “We cannot sing. We are farmers who are just familiar with the fields and the forest. We have no talent for singing.”

It took Trần time and effort to show them that just passion, dedication and patience can help revive BaNa music. He also took charge of leading everyone. After a while, one by one, they came to believe him.

“BaNa people are among the biggest music lovers in Central Highlands. They have an aptitude for music. I have been addicted to music since I was a child. Music and I cannot be separated.

Farm at day, sing at night

In the first days after coming back home, Trần could call on the participation of nearly 30 people. Everyone was excited to go to the forest to find lồ ô, bamboo trees which were then carved and dried to make instruments: K’long putting ningbông bỗh, especially t’rưng instruments. Some T’rưng instruments were lifted from the walls to be used.

Thanks to their constant efforts and creation, Trần and his counterparts have managed to make a new gong collection named Ding Dông based on the working principles of the old gongs.

“For ages, Central Highlands people have been using the old gongs made on the pentatonic scale which is very popular in traditional music but not in new music. However, I would like to develop new gongs that can play all kinds of music. In another sense, it will help popularise ethnic musical instruments to foreigners,” Trần said.

The old gong collection has just 12 or 13 gongs. Meanwhile, the new one has 27 gongs. Of these, 16 gongs are to play main rhythms and the other 11 gongs are to support. That is why the new gong collection can create strange and soothing sounds,” Trần shared excitedly.

Trần has developed the musical troupe to about 70 members, or even 100 members if they need to play the new gongs.

“We just want to let people know how wild and free BaNa music can be. If we can make money, it’s good,” he added.

Now, Kon Klor Village in Kon Tum Province is quite famous not only for its traditional and rustic houses, but also for the musical troupe led by Trần.

Notably, most of the troupe members are poor farming villagers. They were convinced by Trần to try, and then they became talented instrument players.

A Rưng, a member of the Kon Klor musical troupe, shared: “I just finished Grade 9 then stayed home to do farming. When Trần called, I was hesitant at first. Then I was curious and excited to join him. Now it has become so familiar to me. I will definitely be sad if I don’t sing once a week.”

Phạm Thị Trung, director of Kon Tum’s Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, said that she was so touched when seeing Trần’s troupe playing.

“Trần has developed the troupe based on the wildness and freedom in the souls of the BaNa people.”

That’s why Trần and his troupe are newly discovered assets of the cultural sector. — VNS

GLOSSARY

Kaly Trần has just finished his show late on a hot summer night in the hustle and bustle of HCM City. His forehead is sweating yet his lips smile proudly.

Hustle and bustle means noise and activity in a busy place.

Hardly anyone can imagine that this well-built Bana man is so interested in Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) music and is spending a lot of time leading a musical troupe of his own.

A troupe is a group of artists who travel around performing at different places.

I was sent to an orphanage when I was a little child. My love for music grew day by day through the activities and services at the orphanage.”

An orphanage is a place where children whose parents have died or are unable to look after them are kept, fed and looked after.

In his memory, decades ago the BaNa ethnic people led a poor life, yet every household had their own t’rưng and k’long put instruments and gongs.

A decade is a period of ten years.

 “We have no talent for singing.”

Talent means natural skill.

It took Trần time and effort to show them that just passion, dedication and patience can help revive BaNa music.

If you have passion for something you don’t worry about how much time or money you spend on it.

Dedication means giving lots of time and effort to something.

Patience means being able to not worry about something taking a long time.

“They have an aptitude for music.

To have an aptitude for something means to be able to do it with natural skills. It’s the same as talent.

 I have been addicted to music since I was a child. Music and I cannot be separated.

To be addicted to something means to absolutely have to have it – even more than need it – in order to keep going.

Thanks to their constant efforts and creation, Trần and his counterparts have managed to make a new gong collection named Ding Dông based on the working principles of the old gongs.

Counterparts are people who do the same thing you do but in a different place or for a different organisation.

In another sense, it will help popularise ethnic musical instruments to foreigners,” Trần said.

To popularise musical instruments means to make them popular.

Ethnic instruments are those used by people who are different to most others around them because they have a different language, culture, religion or come from a different race.

Of these, 16 gongs are to play main rhythms and the other 11 gongs are to support.

Rhythms are patterns of music.

That is why the new gong collection can create strange and soothing sounds,” Trần shared excitedly.

Soothing sounds are those that make you feel calm.

Now, Kon Klor Village in Kon Tum Province is quite famous not only for its traditional and rustic houses, but also for the musical troupe led by Trần.

Rustic means to do with the countryside.

When Trần called, I was hesitant at first.

Hesitant means uncertain.

Then I was curious and excited to join him.

Curious means eager to know more.

That’s why Trần and his troupe are newly discovered assets of the cultural sector.

Assets are things that are useful and valuable.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. Part of the name of a gong that is also the name of the money used in Viet Nam.
  2. A type of tree found in the forest that is used to make instruments.
  3. The place in the homes of BaNa people where they kept their traditional musical instruments.
  4. A job that A Rưng does while staying at home.
  5. The type of transport Kaly Trần would use to go to his home village after performing in HCM City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2016
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Dong; 2. Bamboo; 3. Walls; 4.  Farming; 5. Bus.

 

 

 

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