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Forum discusses folk song revival

Update: May, 17/2014 - 08:46
Traditional art: Members of a vi giam singing club perform at a festival in Nghe An. Cultural experts believe introducing the style of folk singing into schools will help preserve the art for future generations. — Photo tuoitre.vn

NGHE AN (VNS)— Bringing vi giam singing into schools would help preserve the art, Prof Tran Quang Hai from the French National Centre for Scientific Research said at an international conference held recently in Vinh, Nghe An Province.

"When students access vi giam singing in schools, they will understand the art and nurture the love for old heritage," said Hai.

"Vi giam singing and many other kinds of traditional music like quan ho (love duets) and hat xoan (spring singing) seem to be abstract for young people," he said. "We should introduce the singing to them, otherwise one day, the traditional music will be lost."

Vi giam singing is a type of traditional folk music practised in the provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh. The style of singing without musical accompaniment plays an important role in the cultural life of the people as it has been preserved from generation to generation.

"Nghe An and Ha Tinh are a cradle of vi giam singing, but to preserve the folk art, we should launch a campaign across the whole country, not only in a specific locality," he said.

Hai said young people play a decisive role in protecting and promoting the old tradition. "Many young people enjoy rock and hip-hop and turn their backs on traditional music. When they become interested in vi giam singing, it will be revived."

"In modern life, people have different entertainment options. That's why we should present vi giam singing in interesting ways to entertain audiences."

Hai said local authorities should help to organise vi giam performances.

Noriko Ikawa, from UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, said it was interesting when a form of folk music was transferred from generation to generation in a family.

She also agreed with some suggestions to preserve the music presented at the conference such as bringing it to schools and performing the music on stage.

"I'm interested in this type of dual singing," she said. "Performers stand opposite each other while singing, but when they perform on stage, they face the audience."

"It's good to bring traditional art closer to the public," she said.

The conference was held on Thursday jointly by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the people's committees of Nghe An and Ha Tinh, and attended by 80 researchers from Viet Nam and Russia, France, Belgium, Japan, China, Indonesia, Laos and the US. Also present were vi giam artists from the two localities.

Around 80 essays delivered at the conference provided an objective evaluation of the historical and cultural value of traditional folk music in general and vi giam singing in particular.

The delegates also suggested practical solutions to protect and uphold folk music and to adapt vi giam singing to modern society.

The discussions supplemented a dossier that is being compiled by the ministry to seek UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage recognition.

Earlier, the participants made fact-finding tours to vi giam singing clubs in Nghe An and Ha Tinh.

These localities are currently home to 260 villages where locals still practice vi giam singing. As many as 75 singing clubs have been founded with more than 1,500 members in all.

Vi giam folk music was honoured as a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2012. — VNS


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