Vietnamese experimental composer Vu Nhat Tan has just returned from France, where he joined French artist Eddie Ladoire in a cine-concert project that involved playing electronic music as a soundtrack for Vietnamese film Bao Gio Cho Den Thang Muoi (When October Comes) by director Dang Nhat Minh.
He shares with Culture Vulture his impressions of the trip and the project.
Could you tell us about your recent trip to France?
I went to France to join two electronic music shows in Bordeaux and Toulouse during the last two months. This year is the Year of Viet Nam in France, following the Year of France in Viet Nam in 2013.
During this year, a culture, arts and music series will be organised in various cities throughout France.
The recent event in Toulouse was part of the annual Made in Asia festival, which focused on Viet Nam this year. In addition to my performance, there were shows by singer Le Cat Trong Ly, musician Nguyen Duc Minh and a hip-hop band from Viet Nam. Some overseas Vietnamese artists in France, led by artist Tran Quang Hai, played traditional instruments there as well.
Could you talk about the cine-concert project?
Cine-concert is a new form of art that originated in France. I haven't performed such a show in Viet Nam before, though I have joined various electronic music events in Viet Nam and abroad.
In the two cine-concert shows in France, French artist Eddie Ladoire and I played electronic music as the soundtrack for black and white Vietnamese movie Bao Gio Cho Den Thang Muoi. The audience could read the subtitles while watching us perform.
We spent two weeks before the show watching the movie again and again. We analysed the scenes, then composed music suitable to the scenes and characters' feelings. Then we performed two shows. The following week, I talked at various schools in Bordeaux about Vietnamese traditional music and my own music projects.
How did French audiences receive Vietnamese culture and your shows?
The film was made in the early 1980s and is considered one of Viet Nam's classic war movies.
It attracted mostly older audiences. Yet the black and white movie screened with a background of electronic music is a special combination of old and new features.
Audiences in both Bordeaux and Toulouse liked the screenings very much. Bordeaux audiences even had to queue up for the screening as the theatre there had only 150 seats.
Is composing modern electronic music for an old film challenging?
Of course. It's difficult for inexperienced composers. For the shows, I composed and performed at the same time. That's why I brought along many instruments.
Will you carry out more cine-concert projects in Viet Nam?
Yes, some French artists and I have planned some shows in Ha Noi and HCM City next year as this year we could not find funding.
I hope that by that time, Vietnamese audiences will have a chance to enjoy this modern art form.
You have joined various music projects with foreign artists and toured Europe and the US as well. Do you find any differences between contemporary music in Europe and the US?
In Europe, contemporary music remains in a certain "noble" circle; the audience is a little stricter, so they only accept some creations. However, American viewers are more open and encourages all creations. — VNS