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
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QUACH THI HO
The Best Ca Tru Singer of the 20th Century - Dao Nuong Bac Nhat The Ky 20,
Quach Thi Ho (1909-20010) was a designated 'People's Artist' of Vietnam. Even today she is revered as the greatest practicioner of Ca Tru (choral chamber music). Ca Tru originated from folk traditions and festivals, whereby two or three female singers would be accompanied by a male musician. At the beginning of the 20th century, the form of singing had moved from the countryside to the city. It became popular in the streets of Hanoi and Hue. The theatre owners however, hired just a few professional singers and many of the female singers (dao ruou) were left to serve the drinks and work as prostitutes in the bars where Ca Tru was performed. Quach Thi Ho bucked this trend, joining a Ca Tru troupe by the age of seven, and one of the most famous singers by the time she was twenty. She worked at the Van Thai Theatre for 24 years. Following the revolution in 1945, Ho helped to waive the debts of the other dao ruou workers in her theatre. Ca Tru theatres disappeared, its image tainted by its seedy past. Quanh Thi Ho worked hard to clean up the image and cement Ca Tru as a classical art form. She became internationally known in the 1970s, being awarded an honorary diploma by UNESCO's International Music Council. She travelled to North Korea and Russia to perform. This CD was recorded in 1962, and is issued onto CD from an original release on cassette.
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PHAM THI HUE
Ca Tru -Singing House
Wonderful CD of Vietnamese ca tru, ceremonial singing, an art form that dates back eleven centurries. Traditionally singers and instrumentalists often lived together,according to family lines. Female singer Pham Thi Hue organizes a regular tri-weekly performance of ca tru music in Hanoi, where this CD was purchased. Simple, female vocals accompanied by the dan day, a long necked three stringed lute, and phach (small wooden sticks beaten on a piece bamboo)
1. Thet Nhac 2. Giei Thue 3. Chue Nhan 4. Phan Hong Nhan 5. Giai Nhan Nan Tai Dac 6. Trang An Hoai Co
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Brilliant album of traditional songs from Hue by Vietnam's leading singer of the genre, the wonderful Van Khanh. Evocative music, and one of the great female voices of Asia. Click here to email for availability People who bought this item also bought:
Cai Luong Music
Paris resident Vietnamese singer Huong Thanh has become known for her groundbreaking collaborations with guitarist Nguyen Le, that combine Vietnamese traditional songs and sounds with jazz and other roots styles from around the world. Thanh comes from a family of Cai Luong (renovated theatre music) singers and as a young girl used to travel around Vietnam with her family when they were performing. Cai Luong originated in southern Vietnam and blends folk music with Hat Van (classical theatre music) becoming eventually the national theatre music. When she first arrived in France, Thanh used to sing Cai Luong for the Vietnamese immigrant community, becoming quite a star of the scene. On this album she goes back to her earliest roots, with an album of traditional Cai Luong music, beatifully sung and performed.
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THANH NGOAN, KHAC TU
Hat Van Tuyen Chon 1
Wonderful recording of hat van, the traditional theatre that combines trance singing, music and dancing. The music is punctuated with a range of rhythms and pauses. The main instrument is the moon shaped lute, the dan nguyet, with occasional dan tranh (zither) with a constantly shuffling beat and percussion accompaniment of phach (bamboo or wood) xeng (clappers) and chieng (gong). There is glorious male and female singing throughout the five tracks in what is some of the most evocative music in Vietnam. Click here to email for availability
CA HUE ENSEMBLE
The city of Hue in Central Vietnam is the ancient capital and has a long history for dance and ceremonial music. Songs from Hue (Ca Hue) are some Vietnam's most beautiful, refined music. This fantastic CD features female singing in the characteristic local style which is often tense, yet sometimes relaxed with little vibrato. The accompanying instrumentation is equally appealing with none of the gloss of many releases, but in the genuine old style with tranh (zither) ti (lute) nhi (fiddle) nguyet (guitar). A fantastic blend of emotion and harmony. Click here to email for availability
Hat Tho Nhung Mang Doi Kieu
Superb 2 CD set of hat tho, a traditional form of worship singing and a form of hat van, traditional folk that combines a kind of trance singing with dancing. Hat van originated in the Red River delta in the 16th century. It later spread to the entire country and combines the beauty of folk songs from all regions, north to south. There is real beauty here in the female singing of Hong Van, Tuyet Trinh and others, to mostly, slow, exquisite, dignified music with a range of rhythms and pauses. The instrumental backing is sparse yet creates the atmosphere. The main instruments are the dan nguyet or moon-shaped lute, dan-nhi, (2 stringed fiddle) dan-tranh (zither) and various Vietnamese guitars. These are interspersed with the striking of the phach (a piece of wood or bamboo) marking the rhythm, xeng (clappers), trong chau (drum) and chieng (gong). Nice packaging, 17 tracks. Click here to email for availability
TINH YEU TRONG
Cadao Tuc Ngu
Narrated story (in Vietnamese) that includes plenty of exquisite traditional music. The music is both instrumental (zither, monochord) and vocal. However, there is narration on most tracks as well as the music.