Traditional music is of great value in the world

Musician-Eminent Educator Pham Thuy Hoan, Gold Medalist and Best Honor Graduate at Saigon School of Music and Drama (1962-1963), Chairwoman of "The Songs of the Native Land" troupe. The interview between Ha Dinh Nguyen, from Thanh Nien journal, and Pham Thuy Hoan about the traditional music.

Q: How is traditional music going on as far as you can tell?
    Generally, traditional music-related activities have received many advantages - lots of traditional music festivals held at many places in Vietnam. Many provinces have professional traditional music ensembles of their own which have frequent performance schedules. Hochiminh city is leading among them.  Hochiminh city troupes like this have been invited to perform or had recording contracts overseas. Some schools have extra-curricular sessions of learning to sing folk songs, Vietnamese popular theater (cheo), Vietnamese classical theater (tuong or hat boi), to play traditional musical instruments. Books and documents on traditional music are abundant and more various, especially the cassettes and video tapes. Thanks to them, "The Songs of the Native Land" troupe has much improved their performance. Some CDs were highly estimated such as Ca Tru ranked in 1996 as Choc-the top ranking by traditional music critic Laurent Aubec of Le Monde de la Musique Journal (France), Ca Tru and Quan Ho ranked "3 stars" by UNESCO Auvidis 8035. Numerous books have recently compiled for this subject, which made more advantages for the teaching. The graduates from traditional music department of the conservatoire who used to be unemployed or do others than their profession have not been able to accept all the invitations to perform on many stages. But there was a complaint that the more shows they took, the less artistic quality they gave. And it wouldn't be right if we felt completely satisfied with the prizes which were rewarded to the excellent bands or wonderful renditions in the festivals. It would be better to further explore their success with the support of the media, radio and television. More artistic exchange performances and talks on professional subjects need to be held in order to popularize frequent dignified traditional music movements. On the other hand, most of the traditional music ensembles in Hochiminh city perform in restaurants the stages in which are not appropriately enough for a full rendition of their talent. Furthermore, no artist feels soulful to perform in front of the spectators who are having food and drinks. I assume that traditional music artists dream of their own stages where they can meet, exchange artistic subjects and give dignified renditions. And it would be the best than ever if Hochiminh city had a traditional music orchestra like the symphony one.

Q: What is your idea about the traditional music and the adapted?
    There is a mutual relation between them. Traditional music is a national treasure and essence, so we have to respect, preserve and develop it more. However we shouldn't be conservative because Vietnam has integrated in and
exchanged culture and art with the world around. The traditional music ensembles invited to perform overseas had to render most of adapted music pieces, which resulted from either request from the host country or the necessity of making them appropriate to the local audience. Take as an example the time when "The Songs of the Native Land "troupe had their performance in Japan. The host requested the joint performance of 5 countries in a song which was composed in the Western notation by Japan. Traditional music is precious but the adapted music is also in need.

Q: Could you tell some about the Songs of the Native Land troupe as its chairwomen?
    The troupe was formed in 1981 at Trieu Thi Trinh Primary School
(District 10) and then it has been under the roof of the Hochiminh city Labor Cultural Palace since 1984. Its purpose is to preserve, popularize and develop the traditional music. It has rendered frequently on stages in Hochiminh city as well as on radio and TV. Many of its performances received state-leveled prizes such as gold medals for the programs - - Songs of the Native Land in 1982, Sweet Melodies, silver medal for The Immense Melody I love. besides city-leveled top prizes. The latest were the 3 first, the 2 second, the 3 third and the 3 compliment for the Grace of Quan Ho program by the troupe in "The Melody of the Native Land" festival. The troupe has also trained many young talents and frequently introduced folk songs and traditional music instruments to students from Hochiminh city high schools, opened dan tranh learning and singing classes. Periodically, the troupe rehearse Sunday mornings in the Hochiminh city Labor Cultural Palace

Translated by TAN TAI