Vietnamese artists will bring “Vu khuc Dong Duong” (The Indochinese dance), Vietnam’s oldest notated “don ca tai tu” (southern folk music), to an International Traditional Music seminar held in Shanghai, China from July 10 to 17 to help better promote the country’s traditional music to the world.
“Vu khuc Dong Duong” was notated by Julien Tiersot, a famed French ethnologist and musicologist, in 1900 when a Vietnamese “don ca tai tu” band performed at the Paris World Fair in France as a representative of Indochinese culture. At the fair, celebrated French artist Cléo de Mérode also danced with the piece in the background.
Nguyen Le Tuyen, a Vietnamese music researcher and lecturer at the Australian National University , has recently discovered the piece at a French museum and then sent it back to local researchers.
Over 100 years after the piece was notated, it was performed once more by six seasoned local artists in Ho Chi Minh City on July 5.
These performing artists said they had never seen this piece before and encountered several difficulties, particularly in covering the piece, which was notated on Western notations, in the original band’s improvisational style.
The piece, along with nine others, including signature “Da co hoai lang” (Missing husband at nightfall), will be performed at five 60-minute sessions during the Shanghai seminar.
“Don ca tai tu” is considered one of the country’s main chamber music genres. It is originated from the Hue court music and the southern region’s folk music and has been developed since the 19th century.
Despite its origin of royal music, the singing style is entertaining and highly improvisational. The genre is simplified for laborers and farmers with lullabies and rustic songs, and is often performed on a small stage to entertain audiences after hard working hours or to celebrate bumper crops.
Musicians typically play string and percussion instruments. Apart from harmonising with one another, they also accompany singers. Musicians and singers often reply to or challenge one another with music or songs, which appeals greatly to common audiences.
The genre remains crucial in the country’s traditional cultural activities./.