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Keeping alive the art of Soọng Cô folk songs

Update: February, 27/2017 - 09:00
Sán Dìu people sing Soọng Cô anytime they like in northern province of Vĩnh Phúc. VNS Photo Lê San
Viet Nam News

VĨNH PHÚC — For the Sán Dìu ethnic group that lives in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc, singing is a daily ritual.  

The Sán Dìu community sings these Soọng Cô folk songs on every occasion, including during arduous working hours, on the fields, around a fire and even after dinner, the elders from the local community said.

People may sing to greet one another, express passionate feelings, send best wishes to newly-weds, during birthday parties and new year.

Lê Đại Năm, chairman of Soọng Cô Singing Club in Đạo Trù Commune, said the commune had the highest population of Sán Dìu people in the province, and so their culture was the most vivid there.

“There are 13 Soọng Cô singing clubs in the commune,” he said.

According to Lý Thị Năm, head of a club in Vĩnh Ninh Village, people of all ages call on one another to sing, whenever they can during leisure time after harvest.

“They may sing from morning until late in the afternoon and yet, do not feel tired at all,” she said. “Both members and non-members of the club gather in and outside the commune.”

Trần Quyền, a member of Minh Quang Commune’s singing club, is a frequent participant at the singing sessions.

“We often sing at the Vực Chuông Market from night until early morning,” he said. “Every time I join in this activity, I feel younger and forget the daily hustle and bustle of my hectic life.”

In recent years, Đạo Trù Commune has encouraged the elders in the community to teach their children the Sán Dìu language and establish more Soọng Cô singing clubs, Năm said.

“Every Saturday and Sunday or on holidays, elders gather the young people of the commune to practise some melodies,” Năm said. “The elderly teach the youngsters; the better singers teach those who are not as gifted. That’s how folk songs have been passed down from generation to generation."

Since the Soọng Cô Singing Club of Vĩnh Ninh Village was established, the atmosphere in the village has become cheerful. Many people have joined the club’s singing activity, Năm said.

“In the 13 singing clubs, there are some 600 members,” said Lam Xuân Tiến, chairman of Đạo Trù Commune People’s Committee. “Many of the members have been recognised as artisans of the art.”

On an average, a club organises one singing session every month, excluding the exchanges with clubs in other localities.

“We have also organised singing contests for teenagers in the commune to encourage more youngsters to learn the local folk songs,” he said.

There are around 34,000 people from the Sán Dìu ethnic group residing at the foot of the Tam Đảo mountain range in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc.

They have their own written and spoken language and traditional identity.

Soọng Cô singing has been handed down for hundreds of years from generation to generation in the Sán Dìu community.

The art includes duet singing among young men and women. Singers have to learn by heart the lyrics of the songs. One may sing just a few lines of the song and goad the other teams to complete them or find appropriate lyrics from other songs as their response.

Soọng Cô songs cover subjects such as love, love for nature, loyalty, respect for parents, grandparents, and humanity. — VNS

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