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Travel blogs

A Heritage rich in culture

The culture of Vietnam, forged on the back of agriculture and the cultivation os wet rice, is one os the oldest in East, dating back to the Bronze Age.

The culture of Vietnam, forged on the back of agriculture and the cultivation of wet rice, is one of the oldest in East, dating back to the Bronze Age. Today, some of the very best of Vietnam’s cultural heritage can be found on the UNESCO intangible heritage list, of which its traditional song, poetry, dance and instruments take pride of place and are highlighted below

 

THE SOUTHERN AMATEUR MUSIC

The Southern amateur music (briefly known as amateur music) is a quintessential art genre of Vietnam, which was founded and evolved since the late 19th century. Amateur music is the art of musical instruments and singing and composed by Southern peasantry to perform after their hours of grueling farm work . “ Amateur” refers to musicians,  with exceptional talents  in musical, and vocal performance. It once included musical instruments only, to be added with vocal performance later, thus its name “ Don Ca” ( musical and vocal ). On December 5, 2013, the art of Don ca tai tu’s music and songs in southern Viet Nam was officially recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

TRANG AN – BAI DINH RELIC SITE

Located 95km from Hanoi and mostly in Hoa Lu district (Ninh Binh province ), there is Trang an ecological tourist resort – “ Ha Long bay on land “. It has a total area of 2.168ha and belongs to two main ecosystems, namely limestone mountain and submerged land. Surrounded by limestone mountain range, Trang An is a complex of valleys, 48 trans – water caves and many lakes together with historic relic sites intercalated in forests and limestone mountains. On June 23rd , 2014, the natural complex of Trang An, Ninh Binh was registered by UNESCO as a World Natural and Cultural Heritage.

 

SONGS  THAT UNITE

In 13th Century northern Vietnam a form of traditional folk singing developed that was so powerful that the performers were able to unite the people of separate villages, and forge social bonds that brought peace and harmony to its people. The folk songs, called quan họ, hark to thr people Bac Ninh and Bac Giang province. Performed in a “call and response” format,  the singing in undertaken between two women from one village and two man from another. The song themselves cover a range of emotional states; from the longing and sadness of separation through to the happiness of lover’s meeting. Performed at rituals, festivals, competitions and even informal gatherings, quan họ can be bes observed during the spring festivals that follow the celebration of Tet (Vietnamese New Year) that normally occurs in January/ February. Performances can also be arranged for visitor to Bac Ninh most times of the Year.

 

POETRY INTO SONG

Often compared with the performances of the geishas of Japan, the beautiful and delicate sung poetry of ca trù was originally performed at ceremonies in Vietnam’s Royal Court, and later in tea houses as a form of entertainment for the rich, powerful, and educated classes. In its most popular form, a female singer uses breathing techniques and vibrato to create unique ornamental sounds to the accompaniments of a male lute player a “ spectator “ who strikes a drum when in praise ( or disapproval ) of a singer’s performance. Although today ca tru is considered to be under threat of disappearing altogether, it is enjoying a minor resurgence in modern day Vietnamese movies and synthesized pop music. To catch a ca tru performance visit the Ca Tru Singing House of the Bich Cau Dao Quan Temple where members gather and perform on given Saturday evenings ( both in Hanoi )

 

MUSIC FROM THE ROYAL COURT

Between the 15th – 20th centuries a form of music and dance rose to prominence in the Royal Court of Hue which was soon to become a permanent fixture at anniversaries, religious holidays, and special events across the Vietnam. This Royal Court music, or Nha Nhac, is noted for its grandiose, large- scale and elaborately dressed orchestras that feature prominent drum sections and the expansive use of percussion-, wind- and string instrument played to the accompaniments of song and dance. Whilst the fall of the monarchy and Vietnam’s decades of war have since deprived much of the original context, function and meaning of nha nhac, the art form lives on through popular rituals and religious ceremonies, and it continues to provide a source of inspiration for contemporary Vietnamese music today.

 

COMMUNICATING WITH GOD

 In the five provinces of Tay Nguyen a unique polyphonic musical instrument was formed that is said to enable its musical instrument was formed that is said to enable its players to communicate with God. Made of bronze, the cong chieng is used in religious rituals to communicate the compassion, soul and the mind of the people in a communication. The most gifted artesian of the cong chieng are able to create different tones and melodies the reflect the many characteristics of human emotion, ranging from triumphant and exciting through to tender and sentimental.