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Hanoi Xam singing

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 . Last updated Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:27

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Previously, Hanoian could enjoy xam singing in the trams or anywhere on the streets. Xam songs about life were so familiar to ordinary people. As life has changed, Hanoi xam singing used to fall into oblivion. However, it is now restored right in Hanoi.

There are many legends about the origin of “xam” singing. Legend has it that King Tran Thanh Tong had two princes named Tran Quoc Toan and Tran Quoc Dinh.

The younger brother, Dinh, is kind. So, King Tran Thanh Tong loves him much. Toan envies with his brother. One day, they went hunting in the forest. Prince Tran Quoc Dinh found a piece of jade. But unfortunately, he was harmed by his brother. He was blinded in both eyes and left in the middle of the thick forest. He was saved by woodsmen. Then, he created stringed instruments and “xam” songs. “Xam” singing then was preferred by many people.

Once the King heard the touching singing voice and invited the singer to perform in the palace, thus he noticed his son. King Tran Thanh Tong found out the truth. Those songs are suitable for the blind. They sing not only for money but also to show their optimism. These touchful songs are unforgettable to those who hear them once. That’s the reason why “xam” singing is liked by people.

In late 19th and early 20th century, “xam” singing was spread to Hanoi. Then, it soon became popular in the land of diversified culture. Xam singers made their own songs to match the rhythm of life in the capital. Gradually, they created the art of “xam” singing bearing distinct features of Hanoi. Xam singing followed rural artists to Hanoi and joined the urban life of people there. In order to attract Hanoians, artists adjusted their singing. So that’s why Hanoi xam singing is different from the traditional one.

This place seems to be familiar to this artist. Hao Nam temple is known as a historical monument in Hanoi. But few people know that it’s home to folk music lovers. This building is the head office of Vietnam Music Art Development Center. People who share the same passion for xam singing gather here and look for ways to restore it. After nearly 10 years, efforts by dedicated artists like Prof. Minh Khang, People’s Artist Xuan Hoach, and Meritorious Artist Van Ty have been partially rewarded.

Hanoi xam singing has been restored right in the capital. They still remember the first days they got down to restoring this form of art. Every Saturday, the stage in Dong Xuan Market is set up. One hour before the performance, people gather in front of the stage waiting for the artists.

Xam singing was created by ordinary people and the integrated in the life of urban people. So far, it has been familiar to Hanoians for nearly a century. The expressive singing voice of artists and the haunting sound of the musical instrument capture attention of any passer-by.

In the crowded streets, xam singing is like the glue linking people naturally. Xam singing has been performed in Dong Xuan Stage for 10 years. That’s the proof of the vitality of traditional culture. Only when enjoying the performance can we feel the uniqueness and value of this genre of art. In the heart of the bustling capital, young artists in traditional dress sing xan songs on the stage and people gather around watching the performance attentively.

Restoring, preserving and developing xam singing is a long and difficult road. It’s not the task of a certain person. In addition to efforts of artists, there should be a greater participation of the public, and of the people who love Hanoi xam singing in particular and folk music in general so that it will not fade away with time.


Source: VTC10 - NETVIET

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