Nghi Xuan district residents work to keep folklore melodies alive

Sunday, 2020-08-23 12:19:27
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Nguyen Thi Thu Ha (middle) is a talented young female vocalist from the Co Dam commune’s 'ca tru' singing club (Photo: NDO/Ngo Tuan)
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NDO – In today’s busy life, people in Nghi Xuan district, Ha Tinh province still maintain a deep passion for folklore genres of singing, including 'ca tru' (ceremonial singing), Kieu recital singing, Vi and Giam folk singing. Local artisans, vocalists and instrumentalists have wholeheartedly worked to preserve these traditional art forms and bring them closer to the public.

Village tunes up Kieu recital singing

74-year-old Meritorious Artisan Nguyen Huynh is well-known among Cam Lam villagers in Xuan Lien commune for his life-long devotion to the Kieu recital, a kind of singing during which participants stage melodic recitation of verse from the poetic masterpiece ‘Tale of Kieu’ by celebrated poet Nguyen Du (1765-1820).

Huynh recalls that when he was a young man, he joined Xuan Lien commune’s art troupe on Kieu recital singing to deliver performances to audiences from both inside and outside the locality. During the national resistance war against the US, the art troupe also toured to cheer up soldiers in the battlefield.

It is said that Kieu recital singing originated in Thanh Hoa and Nghe An province and was first practiced in Nghi Xuan district in the early 20th century, where it has been blended with other folk singing styles such as cheo (traditional opera) and the performing arts.

As a member of Xuan Lien commune’s art troupe on Kieu recital singing, Ho Sy Diep said that he spends his spare time practicing Kieu recital, helping him relieve hardships during his fishing trips at sea.

Artisan Nguyen Huynh, now head of the troupe, said that it has 12 permanent members and he can call up dozens of villagers when the troupe needs to deliver big performances because everyone in Cam Lam village can sing a number of verses in ‘Tale of Kieu’ by heart.

The verses have long been sung by mothers in lullabies to their children, thus nurturing their love for the singing from the youngest of ages.

Kieu recital singing has also won the favour of the villagers at gatherings, festivals and cultural events. Many competitions on Kieu recital singing have been held, which have seen the enthusiastic participation of locals, with several teams being made up of family members.

Meritorious Artisan Nguyen Huynh practicing Kieu recital singing (Photo:

Passing down folk singing genres to younger generations

Having a passion for ca tru (ceremonial singing) since 1995 when the Co Dam commune’s ca tru singing club was established, Meritorious Artisans Tran Van Dai and his wife Duong Thi Xanh have become key and active members of the club.

In addition to conducting thorough research on the traditional melodies and tunes of ca tru, the couple has also joined officers at Nghi Xuan district’s cultural centre to visit time-honoured ca tru clubs in Hanoi to learn how to restage a typical ca tru performance.

The club is the cradle of many talented young vocalists who have won prizes at national ca tru festivals, including Phan Thi Sam, Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc and Nguyen Thi Thu Ha.

According to female vocalist Pham Thi Sam, the achievements not only illustrate her club’s effort to preserve the ancestors’ heritage but also motivate her to develop a stronger attachment to the art form.

Director of Nghi Xuan district’s cultural centre, Nguyen Thi Canh said that folk singing has long been widely practiced in the daily life of the district’s residents. A total of 165 folk singing clubs have been founded to promote assorted folk singing genres including ca tru, Vi and Dam singing, and chau van (ceremonial singing).

Since Nghe Tinh Vi-Giam folk singing was honoured by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2014, the Ha Tinh provincial authorities have integrated the art form in school curricula so that students will have the opportunity to learn more about the singing and practice it more regularly.

Vi and Giam singing contests for students have also been organised annually to provide a venue for young participants to show off their musical talents and seek beautiful young voices in the art form.