|Duet: Singer Tung Duong performs with musician Le Minh Son (left) in Ha Noi in August. — Photo news.zing.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — An album recently produced by composer Le Minh Son highlights a genre – lullabies - that has all but slipped from the consciousness of new music being produced in the country.
With A Oi, Son has carved out a special place for himself among the new generation of composers.
Son says it was "personal demand" that inspired this album.
"I put my babies to sleep by using any lyric that I remembered by chance. And most of time, I just turned on the CD player," he said.
Son thought his babies deserved better, and hopes his new album will inspire young mothers to sing more lullabies for their babies.
Produced by Son and his professional team with the likes of Tran Manh Hung and Luu Ha An, both leading composers of modern Vietnamese music, A Oi has eight songs, all very old, collected from different parts of the country.
The songs are performed by well-known singers including quan ho (love duet) and cheo (traditional opera) artistes Thuy Huong and Thu Huyen.
Another noteworthy aspect of the album is that the songs are not orchestrated with traditional instruments. They are accompanied by string and electronic instruments.
"Lullaby is one of the most valuable parts of traditional culture, marking an important milestone in human life," Son said at a press conference on his new production.
Son, 39 was born into a musical family. He began learning music from his father, composer Le Minh Chau, when he was just three years old. He started to compose on his own when he was just 11 years old.
After graduating in guitar performances from the Viet Nam Academy of Music in 1999, Son went to France for further studies.
On his return, he achieved renown as a soloist playing Flamenco melodies. He also began writing songs based on folk music.
When his Chuon Chuon Ot (Red Dragonfly) was sung by Ngoc Khue at the Sao Mai Singing Contest 2003, many people felt it was very different from other pop songs that they had heard before.
Later, Son came out with a series of songs including Oi Que Toi ! (Oh, My Homeland !), Ben Bo Ao Nha Minh (By Our Pond) and Da Chong Chong (Stone-Woman Waits for Husband) that made him popular. It is generally acknowledged that not many singers can sing his compositions.
"Son's songs are simple but very creative. They are contemporary, but come out of Son's nostalgia," said veteran musician Nguyen Cuong.
"When I listen to Son's music, I find it difficult to place it. On the surface, he seems to be more rural, but actually he is more urban than urbanites.
"This contrast has created a completely different picture of Son which cannot be matched by any one else in the music industry."
Son goes to great lengths in having direct experiences inspire his songs.
He travelled for a month in the central region to see first-hand how locals deal with natural disasters. After the trip, he wrote Sau Bao (After the Storm), a song that speaks for all the travails that residents of the central region face.
Another song, Mot Khuc Song Hong (A Red River Improvisation), was in the writing for three years. He spent around 12 hours sitting on the banks of the Red River from early in the morning and still waited for a long time later for the muse to strike him.
The song has become very popular through renditions by singers like Thanh Lam and Tung Duong.
Thanh Lam's performance earned the composer an award a in the Bai Hat Yeu Thich (Favourite Song) television series.
Hoang Quyen, Tung Duong, Ngoc Khue and Ha Linh are singers who can vouch for Son's desire to "discover young talents and help them emerge".
After he won a Ha Noi Television singing award, Tung Duong came into his own after performing Son's songs at another contest held by Viet Nam Television.
Ten years after their first collaboration, the two artists held a live show last June, rocking the audience with Bien Cua Ta (Our Sea).
"When the show was organised, China was operating its rig in Vietnamese seas illegally. As a composer, I show my patriotism through my songs," Son said.
Son is now working on producing a jazz-pop album with Tung Duong called Khong Mua (No Season) that will introduce eight new songs. — VNS