Southern music seeks UNESCO recognition

VietNamNet Bridge - Efforts are being to compile a national dossier on ‘Nghe Thuat Don Ca Tai Tu’ (Southern amateur music) to be nominated to UNESCO as a mankind intangible cultural heritage.

March 2011 is the deadline for Vietnam to forward its dossier, said the Head of Vietnam’s National Academy of Music Associate Professor Le Toan, adding that there will be an international seminar held on Southern amateur music in Ho Chi Minh City in January, 2011.

A film crew from the institute began a fact-finding tour in mid-November to shoot a documentary on southern amateur music in 14 southeastern and Mekong Delta provinces over two months.

Professor Tran Van Khe said that there has been no study affirming the date of southern amateur music but many researchers say that this art was formed in when land in the south of the country was reclaimed at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.

This kind of folk art is performed by southerners after their working day is over, he added.

The instruments, namely the ‘Dan Co’ (also known as a ‘Dan Nhi’), the Vietnamese two stringed fiddle, ‘Dan Tranh’ (also known as the ‘Dan Thap Luc’ or 16-chord zither) and the ‘Doc Huyen Cam’ (monochord), are used in this art but nowadays the monochord has been replaced with a guitar.

Southern amateur singers’ groups have now formed into semi professional clubs to meet the demands of tourists for this genre of music. Officials say that they hope to the compilation of a dossier to ask UNESCO for recognition of the music as an intangible culture would contribute to protecting the nation’s cultural heritage at an international level and raise the community’s awareness of the art while promoting the country’s image to attract more tourists.

Professor Tran Quang Hai said that the north boasts ‘Ca Tru’ (Ceremonial singing) and ‘Quan Ho’ (Love duets singing) while the central has ‘Nha Nhac’ (Hue royal court music) and the Central Highlands is famous for its gongs but southern amateur music has not yet been honoured. Although it has existed for more than 100 years, southern amateur music has traditionally been accompanied by ‘Cai Luong’ (Reformed theatre).

Southern amateur singers’ clubs can be found everywhere from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho, My Tho, Bac Lieu and Ca Mau and this model should be developed for researchers to explore and complete a dossier, said Professor Hai.

Tran Viet Dung, Acting Head of the Cultural Section of the Ca Mau Provincial Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said that his province has more than 600 clubs that confirms the strength of this form of art.

Meanwhile, authorities of the Can Tho provincial Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said that the music is very much in southern people’s blood and everyone can sing even a little. This remains an art that cannot be replaced in the future, they said.

The Deputy Director of Can Tho’s provincial Culture, Sports and Tourism Department Ho Van Hoang, said that southern amateur music originated from Hue royal court music and was taken long ago to the south of the country.

Source: VNA