Traditional vocal heritage on YouTube

March 14, 2020 - 08:34
Xẩm Hà Thành (Hà Nội buskers’ singing group) has recently published various videos of traditional xẩm singing.

HÀ NỘI — Xẩm Hà Thành (Hà Nội buskers’ singing group) has recently published various videos of traditional xẩm singing.

Each clip features a song with people acting out the lyrics.

A scene in a video posted on Xẩm Hà Thành's Youtube channel. — Photos taken from Youtube

The song Tứ Vị Hà Thành (Hà Nội’s Best Delicacies), for example, has been staged very carefully.

In the clip, various delicacies of the city are featured with artful filming like phở (beef noodles) and bún chả (grilled pork with vermicelli).

The latter dish also features former US President Obama enjoying it at a restaurant in downtown Hà Nội.

“It’s so trendy,” one viewer commented.

Composer and researcher Nguyễn Quang Long is very proud of the channel that he and other artists have spent a lot of time putting together.    

He, composer Giáng Son and researcher Mai Tuyết Hoa have co-worked on the project.

“Traditional melodies of xẩm have been combined with modern lyrics,” Long told Thanh Niên in an interview.

A scene from MV Tứ Vị Hà Thành by Xẩm Hà Thành group. 

“The songs are illustrated with beautiful videos,” he said. “I think it’s interesting enough.”

Trần Nam, a student in Hà Nội, told Việt Nam News that he usually didn't like traditional music.

“But I found this kind of clip interesting,” he said. “The scenes have been carefully filmed. They help me understand the profound lyrics more.”

Mai Đức Thiện’s YouTube channel, which was set up in 2011, contains many videos of chèo (traditional opera), xẩm (blind wanderers’ music) and hát văn (ceremonial singing).

There is a library of vocal arts performed by both veteran and young artists.

“I have done everything for the channel by myself,” 30-something-Thiện said. “I love traditional music. I don't have much money and received no financial aid so far. But the tasks do not require much money, only lots of time and energy.”

“I have collected ancient chèo melodies and produced videos since 2011,” he said.

He said the most challenging task was producing karaoke videos of chèo, where he has to cut clips and combine typing techniques and music backgrounds.

He said he had spent days on each video.

“Though the art of chèo is still popular, it is actually starting to fade,” he said. “I have collected 190 ancient melodies.”

He learnt from two artists, also his close friends, People’s Artist Minh Thu and People’s Artist Thanh Bình.

Music researcher Đặng Hoành Loan, former rector of the Việt Nam Music Research Institute, likes the channels.

“They are fresh ideas to revive an ancient art,” he said. “They are more convenient for the audience to approach than other ways of storing music heritage.”

“We are living in 4.0, when everyone needs to respect copyright,” he said. “Any channels need permission from the writers before publishing their works.”

Loan suggested publishing the collection held by institute on YouTube.

“The institute has a valuable stock of music heritage,” he said. “It’s a good way to lure younger audiences to traditional music.” — VNS