Immersing in spring love duet melodies

Update: 07:54 | 24/02/2019

(BGO) – The passion for Quan ho (love duet song) takes me here in a lunar January afternoon. 


Meeting Quan ho artists

 There are 5 ancient Quan ho villages recognized by UNESCO as the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in Viet Yen district in the northern province of Bac Giang. They include 4 villages in Ninh Son commune, namely Mai Vu, Gia Son, Huu Nghi and Noi Ninh as well as Sen Ho village in Nenh town.

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Quan ho Male and female singers in Ninh Son commune (Viet Yen district).

Previously, Ninh Son residents relied on farming. Though the local youths are now earning a living by working for companies, doing business at other places, starting up their own business or service, every household keep some areas of the field. Typically, “Lien chi” (female singer) Nguyen Thi Sen (49 years old) in Mai Vu hamlet cultivates the peanut and rice; raises dozens of pigs; makes 20 kilograms of rice wine every day and casts aluminum cookers for sale.

However, she is always eagle to call for other members in the Quan ho singing club to take the evening practice. Sen is hardly absent from any exchange event with the communes and villages in the district such as Bo Da signing festival or events held in Bac Ninh province and Hanoi city.

“The crop is done in right season, the products are sold in right time. We should well arrange everything. For me, singing with the brothers and sisters is a daily task just like the farm work and housework. If we consider it as a must, it will really hard to arrange suitable time”, Sen shared.

Love for Quan ho singing

Bac Giang province, love duet melodies, Quan ho, passion for Quan ho, UNESCO,  intangible cultural heritage, evening practice, resounding melodies

Quan ho Male and female singers in Ninh Son commune (Viet Yen district).

Luckily, there is no industrial project appearing in Ninh Son village. The communal house and pagoda are well preserved, creating the ideal spaces for Quan ho performance. No one here knows exactly when the “ancient” Quan ho was born.

“My grandparents said that they can sing Quan ho because their ancestors teach them. We learn to sing Quan ho from my parents and grandparents who learned from their predecessors. Thus this generation passes to the next ones. Maybe it was born hundreds of years ago or father,” Lien chi Doan Thi Bui, Head of Noi Ninh Quan ho singing club revealed.

In the village, sisters perform Quan ho melodies at any time such as when doing farm work or visiting the pagoda, in the evening, holiday, off-season. They deliver the baby lullaby by Quan ho songs. Sometimes, if they practice singing on a rainy evening, they will sing through the night and only go home when the rain stops.

Previously, the hamlet did not have the cultural house, loudspeaker and CD, the members almost learned by oral tradition at home. It was till 2009 when Quan ho was officially recognized as heritage, they received the supports from Bac Ninh province via the document, further training on singing skill. At that time, the members encourage each other to practice Quan ho enthusiastically.

Lien Chi Dam Thi Bui said she can sing beautifully at the age of 13. She still remembers the childhood passion for listening to her mothers and other adults singing the sweet melodies. With the encouragement from the mother, Bui can skillfully perform several melodies such as Song caunuoc chay lo tho, Cay trucxinh, Con duyen, Ly cay the grade six and seven.

Normally it requires a good voice to sing well a song, but singing with the passion on the love duet melodies only needs to know the way to take the breath and release the words at a right time.

Preserving the ancient source

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Quan ho Female singers in Noi Ninh hamlet, Ninh Son commune (Viet Yen district).

Nguyen Van Dac - Lien anh (male singer) of Noi Ninh Quan ho singing club said: “The youth has special love for Quan ho thought they have to go to school and work or take care of the kids. Thus, they take the holiday or Tet to show talent. At that time, we step back for their passion”.

The club now has 39 members, the youngest is 6-year-old Lien chi Nguyen Phuong Thao and 7-year old Lien chi Nguyen Thi Quynh Chi who are granddaughters of Lien chi Dam Thi Bui and Doan Thi Cu.

Additionally, many couples join the singing event together such as the couple of Nguyen Van Nen – Le Thi Luu, Doan Thi An – Nguyen Van Thuc, Nguyen Van Dac – Doan Thi Huong ...

Money is not the matter in this era, but the long term passion for the ancient love duet singing is the hardest thing. Lien anh and Lien chi have to dye their hair monthly to fit with the performing clothes because most of them have grey hairs due to old age.

And them, the old aged Lien anh, Lien chi in Ninh Son village, namely Hai Nen, Hai Dac, Hai Ngoan, Hai Bui, Hai Cu...are the ones to keep the thread that links the past to present with hope toward future.

Though the afternoon sunlight is faded, we go home with the resounding melodies.


Savouring the beautiful melodies of ‘Quan Ho’ singing at Lim festival
In the soft spring drizzle on the first days of the lunar month, local amateur and professional Quan Ho (love duet) singers flocked to Tien Du district, Bac Ninh province to celebrate the annual Lim festival.
The beauty of Quan Ho (Love Duet) singing in the north of Cau river
(BGO) – Among 49 old villages of Quan Ho singing in the north and south banks of the Cau river, five of which are located in Bac Giang province including villages of Huu Nghi, Gia Son, Noi Ninh, Mai Vu (Ninh Son commune) and Sen Ho (Nenh town). Since the Love Duet folk singing was recognized as world’s intangible cultural heritage in 2009 by UNESCO, Quan Ho singing movement has been spread out locally, especially in Viet Yen district which helps contribute to the local various spirit life.

Boat performances help preserve Quan ho singing
Dozens of Quan ho (love duets) artists in the northern province of Bac Ninh – the cradle of the traditional art form – are coming together every Saturday night to entertain audiences in a very special performance.
Festival to honour Bac Ninh love duet singing
The ‘Visiting the land of Quan Ho (Love Duet) singing’ festival 2019 will take place in the northern province of Bac Ninh from February 13 to 28, to mark a decade since the folk art form won UNESCO recognition as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity (2009 - 2019).
Nurturing passion for love duet song
(BGO) – Since being established in 2009 by Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuc, General Manager of BAGICO Joint Stock Company in Vang hamlet, Bich Son commune, Viet Yen district (Bac Giang), the club of “I love Quan Ho folk song” has inspired thousands of youth members to learn the love duet songs, creating a meaningful playground for the youngster and promoting their passion for the unique art form.

Kim Hieu

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