Sunday, 29 March 2009

Enjoying hat xam at Dong Xuan Market

Today's youth do not seem to be fascinated by melodies of traditional music and theatre. They even turn their back on those genres. So what do you and I, the young, think when the national traditions and identity are being forgotten, are dying out?

As usual at 7 in the evening, audience of Hanoi come to Dong Xuan Market to enjoy hat xam performances by artists of the Centre for the Development of Vietnamese Music. Although this programme has just begun for a short time, it attracts a lot of Hanoians. This is also an opportunity to introduce traditional music of Vietnam to tourists, both domestic and foreign.

At first, many people came here out of curiosity. They were surprised to see those who wore dark clothes, black glasses and conical hats in this bustling city. The artists were passionately deep in the beautiful melodies of xam, quan ho or trong quan. They were surprised to hear clear and pleasant sounds amid terrible noise from the streets.

Since the time when they saw it as "strange", they gradually became faithful audience every Saturday night. Lan Anh, from National Economic University, said "I only know about xam and chau van from books and newspapers. I haven't attended any performance before. Now I find this type very pleasant to hear."

Traditional music is considered the soul of Vietnam. Ms Do Thi Nuong, at Hang Than Street, said "I have been listening to xam since I was a child but listening just to listen. Now I can understand every word of xam. I come here almost every week."

It seems when people are too busy earning their living, bored with noisy sounds, they want to return to the past with attractive, beautiful melodies.

Besides Vietnamese, who want to seek the homeland soul, xam also attracts many foreigners. American Fred Thurner was listening excitedly and taking photos of the artists. He said "Your music attracts me."

Not many knows that enthusiatic artists must make great efforts to organise a performance every week. They are trying to restore old melodies likely to be lost if not conserved.

Do the present 8x, 9x generations seem to young to enjoy the so-called "old music"? But the impossible is now appearing in the centre of Hanoi. Hope xam will attract more audience in the near future.

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