War is a Wound, Peace is a Scar
The spotlight has shone recently on the music made in 1960s/70s Cambodia and Thailand, when American influences, in part due to the war in neighbouring Vietnam, permeated local music traditions. Even as far away as Okinawa, home to many US military bases, the music scene was changed forever. In Saigon, US rock and pop influenced local music too, albeit usually in a lighter pop/folk style compared to the raw psychedelic/funky sounds being made across the borders.The main protagonists of the day, such as Khanh Ly, emigrated to America in 1975 along with thousands of other Vietnamese refugees. This album too is all about the legacy of the Vietnam war, but in a very different way. War is a Wound, Peace is a Scar focuses on the Communist north in Hanoi, with musicians who lived through, survived the war and now sing songs they feel tell their tale. It is a beautiful document, at times moving and surprising. Over the course of the album we are introduced to five musicians who feature on different tracks. Singer Nguyen Thi Lan produces a spine tingling magical moment, on Road to Home. We are told she was once an AK-47 issued village leader who hadnt sung for forty years whose emotional performance defied her usual stoic personality. The song titles are in English, which leave no doubt about their content; For the Fallen, Road to Home, Please Wait for Me and Taking Your Spirit to the Next World. 85 year old Vo Tuan Minh plays guitar and sings on what is the only original song by one of the performers, I Long to Return to My Hometown. Written when he was a soldier, his role was to sing to boost the morale of the troops. All other instruments are Vietnamese and include the little known Kni, an extraordinary plucked instrument that is clasped between the teeth and the words spoken in a local dialect on this album by Quoc Hung through its single string. Holding together, what could be a disparate group of musicians and styles, is former Hanoi and now California resident Van An Vo, whose last album was reviewed in these pages and a track included on one of the compilations. She adds dan tranh, the Vietnamese zither, and occasional percussion to most tracks. Its all beautifully recorded in Hanoi and produced by fellow Californian Ian Brennan, best known probably for his work with Tinariwen and Malawi Mouse Boys. If theres one minor gripe, its that the booklet-less digipak doesnt give a bit more information about the musicians and the songs. For example, we dont get any information about Pham Mong Hai, who contributes, beautifully, the opening two and final track. I get the feeling theres even more of a story to tell, hidden between the lines sung by these performers. Overall though, an exquisite release.
1. Pham Mong Hai- For The Fallen 01:59 2. Pham Mong Hai - Help Us in This Life 3. Nguyen Thi Lân - Road to Home 4. Quôc Hùng - The Wind Blows It Away 5. Võ Tuan Minh - I Long to Return to My Hometown 6. Xuân Hoach - Heroine Song 7. Xuân Hoach - Doomed Love 8. Nguyen Thi Lân - The Rice Drum 9. Xuân Hoach - Gratitude 10. Quôc Hùng - Please Wait for Me 11. Pham Mong Hai - Taking Your Spirit to the Next World
WATCH ALBUM TRAILER
Viet Nam: Court Theatre Music: Hat-Boi (Smithsonian Folkways Custom CD)
Album of the music that accompanies, Hat Boi, the traditional court theatre of Vietnam (hat=theatre boi=painted face). Scenes and excerpts from traditional plays performed by the Academy of Dramatic Art and the Traditional Theatre Troupe of Ho Chi Minh City. Original release 1985. Comes with extensive English and French liner notes.
1. Khai tràng, nhip môt and nhip ba - Van Long, Van Lua, Ngoc Anh, Van Tuong, Van Dap, Hanh 5:24 2. Excerpt from the play: Yên Phi Long tiên chông- Bà Nam Dô, Châu Ky, Van Long, Van Lua, Ngoc Anh, Van Tuong 17:37 3. Thân chu (incantation) - Van Long, Van Lua, Ngoc Anh, Van Tuong 3:10 4. Hat nam Duong ngoc Bây - Van Long, Van Lua, Ngoc Anh, Van Tuong, Van Dap, Hanh 6:33 5. Excerpt from the play: Dào Tam Xuân bao phu cuu - Bà Nam Dô, Kim Thanh, Van Long, Van Lua, Ngoc Anh, Van Tuong 12:37
NHA NHAC CUNG DINH
Traditional Music in the Central Palace for the Kings
Superb album of ancient court music performed on a variety of traditional instruments by an eleven member ensemble. Rare, and beautiful music. Recommended.
People who bought this item also bought:
AM NHAC TRUYEN THONG VIETNAM
Vietnam Traditional Music - Past & Present
Excellent survey of various types of Vietnamese traditional music. These include court music played by a large ensemble, folk songs, solo sets of various flutes, the two chord fiddle dan-nhi, dan tranh (zither) plus a Chinese tune and bizzarely, Mozart played by a Vietnamese symphonic ensemble. 11 tracks. English liner notes and song title translations.
SONG OF THE NATIVE LAND ENSEMBLE
Traditional songs and instruments such as a 17 string zither, 1 stinged harp and bamboo flute. Good recording.
Khuc Nam Xuan
Superb album of mostly instrumental traditional music played on dan tranh (zither) and Vietnamese guitars, phim lom, dan kim and dan co. Includes two vocal tracks and one featuring piano. High quality recording of exquisite southern traditional music.
NGUYEN THANH THUY
Doc Tau Dan Tranh
Fantastic CD of solo dan tranh (16 stringed zither). The tranh is similar to the Japanese koto, the Chinse guzheng, or the Korean kayagum, but is an original Vietnamese instrument. The player sits and the right hand plucks the strings while the left hand presses them down. It is often used as an accompaniment to poetry or as part of a larger ensemble. As a solo tranh CD this is as good as it gets. Slow, reflective, graceful, charming, wonderfully played, beautifully recorded. On a par with the best zither players from the rest of Asia.
People who bought this item also bought:
CUNG THUONG HOA DIEU
Old Tune in Concert
Tourists to the Mekong Delta are often treated to a performance of so-called 'amateur' music from the south. This fantastic CD is of a live recording of instrumental music from the south, played on a variety of stringed instruments including dan nguyet (moon-shaped lute) dan nhi (two stringed fiddle) dan bao (monochord) and Vietnamese guitar. The songs are introduced in English as well as Vietnamese giving background to the music and information on each song. Click here to email for availability People who bought this item also bought:
Binh Minh Tren Reo Cao (Sunrise on the Highland)
Described on the cover as an 'eminently artist' Phuong Bao is from Nam Ha province the daughter of a famous dan bau player. She studied zither (tranh) at music college and for over forty years has been acknowledged as one of Vietnam's most prominent traditional zither players. She has played in countries around the world. Beautiful performances on zither accompanied by Vietnamese percussion other traditional instruments, and occasional violin. An old recording of Vietnamese classical music, that has an experimental edge.
Nhac Cu Dan Toc Vietnam 1- Traditional Folk Music
If you want an overview of Vietnamese traditional music and instruments, perhaps this is the CD. It begins with a tune played on the dan trung (bamboo xylophone) before moving onto the dan nhi (2 stringed fiddle) various flutes, dan tranh (zither) dan ty ba (pear shaped lute) dan bao (monochord) and dan nguyet (moon shaped lute) and rarer instruments such as hong phuc, tien vuong, the dan and mai phuong. Click here to email for availability
Nhac Cu Dan Toc Vietnam 2 - Traditional Folk Music
Volume 2 is up to the standard of the previous set. This one features more ensemble pieces played on the common traditional instruments as well as many more rare instruments such as klongput (bamboo tubes).
People who bought this item also bought:
Tieng Dan Dan Toc Vietnam - Vietnamese Traditional Musical Instruments
10 tracks featuring 9 different instruments: dan bau (monochord), trung (bamboo xylophone) sao truc (bamboo flute) dan nhi (two-stringed guitar) dan nguyet (moon shaped guitar) klongput (bamboo tubes) dan tranh (sixteen stringed zither) tyba (four stringed guitar). The instruments are featured both solo and as the featured instrument in an ensemble. Excellent album. Click here to email for availability
Dieu Dan Phuong Nam 2
Fantastic CD of southern Vietnamese folk and traditional music played on tyba (four stringed guitar) tranh (zither) and some other rare instruments. The music has a raw quality to it, but the performances are nothing less than virtuosic. 14 excellent tracks many with a bluesy quality. Click here to email for availability