Sweet Then melodies in basalt land

Update: 14:01 | 07/02/2019

Whenever the sound of a Tinh gourd lute in harmony with the raspy, sweet and warm Then songs (a unique folk art practiced by Tay and Nung ethnic groups) resounds among the forests in the Central Highlands, ethnic minority people of the Tay, Nung, Kinh, E De, and M’Nong come closer together.

Meritorious Artisan Nong Van Huu, a Tay ethnic minority person originated from Cao Bang, is the head of Nam Dong Then singing Club in Cu Jut district, Dak Nong province. He used Then songs and Tinh flute to bring pleasure and connect the local people together.

Sweet Then melodies, basalt land, Tinh gourd lute, unique folk art,  Tay and Nung ethnic groups, ethnic minority people,  Meritorious Artisan Nong Van Huu

Meritorious Artisan Nong Van Huu has received many certificates of merit.

Artisans like Nong Van Huu encouraged villagers in Dak Nong and Dak Lak provinces to form Then singing groups to exchange during Tet (Lunar New Year) days. Then tunes have become songs for children’s lullabies and mediation for the bickering in the daily lives of local people.

Considering Tinh flute and Then songs as the breath of life over half a century, artisan Nong Van Huu realized that the sound of the flute depicts people’s heart and minds. In more than 200 Then songs composed by himself, all words bear positive meanings. He and the other artisans think that the beauty, affection and gratitude can defeat the bad.

Tinh flute is regarded as an instrument bestowed by heaven. It accompanies Then songs to create a special harmony, making life more pleasurable and happier. People who learn Then singing and way to play Tinh flute will learn the virtue and courtesy in the behavior among families and ethnic groups.

Normally, from the 25th day of the last lunar month, Then songs highlighting the beauty of spring and praising the country echo everywhere. So far, over 100 Tay, Nung and E De people have learned dozens of Then songs by heart so that they can teach their relatives. Every day, Dam Thi Tuyen, deputy head of Nam Dong Then Club, performs Then singing and teaches other residents, particularly younger generations for a few hours.

Then songs by Nam Dong Club’s members have not only been performed at spring festivals but are also popular around the country. The song‘Khuc tam tinh Dac Nong’ (The confession of Dak Nong) that was created and performed by the Club won the B prize at the second National Tinh flute Festival in Cao Bang.

Realizing the power of the spiritual encouragement of Then melodies, artisan Nong Van Huu has taught and instructed hundreds of farmers on how to find addresses and emails of many well-known Then singing clubs around the country via the internet to exchange together. 

Artisan Nong Van Huu recalled that about ten years ago, sometimes his house was crowded with many women from various communes who carried coconut shells and wooden handles to ask me to make Tinh flutes. They also asked for copies of many Then songs about the love and family happiness to sing for their husbands and children in spring nights as well as hard times.

He said that many locals were willing to pay money to participate in competitions to improve their skills of playing Tinh flute and Then singing. During Tet festival, the local people are always ready to introduce Then songs to thousands of foreigners travelling to the Central Highlands region, contributing to conveying a beautiful cultural heritage of Vietnam to international friends.

The Central Highlands gathers dozens of ethnic groups, including nearly 3,000 Tay and Nung people coming from the north. Then singing is considered as a special ‘ambassador’ that can enhance the connectivity among the community. Since the Then singing clubs formed, the local people’s spiritual lives have been more pleasurable and richer. 

From Nam Dong, the Then singing movement has spread to surrounding districts such as Krong No and Dak Min. Nam Dong commune has formed an arts fund to support Then singing artisans. This folk genre has also been added to the extracurricular programmes at schools in the commune.

Bac Giang shows off cultural heritage of Then singing at National Festival
(BGO) – The Bac Giang provincial Museum and Center of Culture and Cinema on May 13 – 14 exhibited and introduced the cultural heritage of Then singing of  Bac Giang based Tay and Nung ethnic people in the sixth National Festival of the art of Then singing and Tinh gourd lute of the Tay, Nung and Thai ethnic groups held in the northernmost province of Ha Giang.
Then singing - Melody from Heaven
Then singing with Dan Tinh (gourd lute) is a unique art of Tay, Nung and Thai ethnic groups in northern mountainous provinces such as Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Bac Can and Lang Son. It is an important spiritual activity of those groups.
Lang Son establishes clubs to preserve Then singing
Lang Son province has encouraged the establishment of local Then singing clubs to promote the development of this genre of traditional singing – a typical culture of Tay, Nung and Thai ethnic people in the northern mountainous region.
Traditional Then singing festival to kick off in May
A festival of traditional then singing, featuring art troupes from 16 provinces and cities in the country, will be held in the mountainous province of Ha Giang on May 13-14.

Source: NDO

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