Gong performance is an art that is closely connected to the cultural history of ethnic groups residing in the Central Highlands along Truong Son mountain range such as Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong provinces. The Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands includes not only Gongs, Chimes and Gong music melody, but also the artists, the festivals with Gongs, Chimes and the places to hold the festivals... The owners of this cultural space come from different ethnic groups such as Ede, Bana, Ma, Lac, Xe dang and Jia rai...


Gongs and Chimes are ceremonial musical instruments. The Gong and Chime performances are closely tied to cultural rituals and ceremonies; different Chime performance will be played in different ceremonies.

For Vietnamese researchers, Gongs and Chimes are originated from the lithophones and seen as the symbol of the beliefs of ethnic people. They represent the means to communicate with the invisible, and among people in the community. Gongs and Chimes can be found in daily life of the Central Highlands' people such as ceremonies of the buffalo sacrifice, the funeral, the house inauguration, the blessing of seeds prior to sowing, the blessing of new harvests, the closing of stocks… as well as in community rituals like naming the newborn, house-warming, abandonment and water trough ceremony...

Gongs and Chimes are made of brass alloy which is a mixture of brass and gold, silver or bronze. A Gong is a circular musical instrument with a central raised boss or nipple while a Chime does not. Gongs come in various sizes ranging from 20-60 cm to 90-120 cm which is the biggest one. Gongs and Chimes may be used separately or in an ensemble. Ethnic groups in the Central Highlands use different sets of Gongs and Chimes: a set of Chimes with 2 or 3 units, a set of Chimes with 6 units, a set of Chimes with 11 or 12 units including 3 Gongs and 8-9 Chimes.

The space of Gongs and Chimes has played a central part in the life of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands. They are musical instruments of sacred power, spiritually representing people's joys and sorrows. Behind every Gong or Chime hides a God or Goodness whose power depends on the age of his Gong or Chime. Gongs are valuable assets which represent power and wealth. The more Gongs a family possesses, the more respect the family will earn from other families in the same village or other ones. The village elder with more Gongs could become the elder of the whole region.

The Central Highlands' Gongs and Chimes are cultural heritages of imprinted time and space, representing the musical development of the Central Highlands since time immemorial up to now.

On 25 November 2005, the Space of Gong Culture in Central Highlands was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In November 2008, UNESCO added the Space of Gong Culture in Central Highlands in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.




Kon Tum is a mountainous province of North Central Highlands where ethnic minority groups account for 53% of the total population including Bana, Xe dang, Jia rai, Jer trien, Brau and Roman. The region has a rich and diverse culture. The Gong and Chime performances are closely associated with the community life of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands.

Being aware of the importance of intangible cultural heritages in social life, Kon Tum province has recently been paying adequate attention to the preservation and promotion of the cultures of different ethnic groups, especially the Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands.

During the past years, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Kon Tum has held the annual Festival of Ethnic Minorities at Mang Den national ecotourism area and reorganized more than 20 traditional festivals of 6 ethnic minorities. "Gong Festival Night-Colors of Culture" and "Central Highlands Gong Festival" are annual festivals, organized to promote the Gong culture to local and international tourists.

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The preservation of Gong music melodies and sets of Gongs has been continuously carried out over the past years. According to statistics, local people in Kon Tum province have been preserving more than 1,800 Gongs.

Many training courses on Gong playing have been held in order to transfer passion to young generations and promote the space of Gong culture. Gong training courses in Kon Tum Kpong (Thang Loi ward, Kon Tum city) have attracted the participation of a large number of young children. More than 30 "little" Gong performers now are able to play in village ceremonies. In Lung Leng village, Sa Binh commune, Sa Thay district which is about 20 km west of Kon Tum city, training activities for "little" Gong performers have been carrying out.

This training model has been introduced to many other districts of the province, spreading the love of Gong culture to many generations in the Central Highlands. Hundreds of Gong bands, as a result, have been formed helping to echo Gong music melodies in the mountains and forests of the Central Highlands.



Nha Nhac - Vietnamese Court Music is a music genre of feudal dynasties used in court ceremonies, entertainment activities of royal families or in sacrifice ceremonies.


Nha Nhac has existed since the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225). Its depiction was found on carved rocks at Phat Tich Pagoda. The carving shows an orchestra of 10 players with such musical instruments as "phach", 2-stringed fiddle with a coconut body, transverse flute, long zither, pear-shaped lute with four strings, a moon-shaped 2-string lute and drums.

Under the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400), Nha Nhac took shape and was classified into 2 types: Great Music (Dai Nhac) and Small Music (Tieu Nhac). Great Music served Kings' entertainment. Members of the royal families and mandarins had chances to enjoy Great Music only in big ceremonies. Meanwhile, Small Music was very popular and widely played in the community.

Nha Nhac evolved during the Le Dynasty (1427-1788) and was organized into 2 different orchestras, playing Duong Thuong Chi music and Duong Ha Chi music. In historical records, Hue Court Music consisted of 8 genres: Giao Nhac, Mieu Nhac, Ngu Tu Nhac, Dai Trieu Nhac, Thuong Trieu Nhac, Dai Yen Nhac, Cung Trung Chi Nhac and Cuu Nhat Nguyen Giao Trung Nhac. Ceremonial music under the Le Dynasty adopted some dances, of which Binh Ngo Pha Tran and Chu Hau Lai Trieu dances contained highly artistic values.

Court Music flourished at the Hue Court under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) with the name known until this day as Hue Court Music or Nha Nhac.

Hue Court Music builds itself upon the Thang Long Royal Music of previous centuries which carried in itself the quintessence of more than 1,000 years of development.

The scope of the orchestra, the performance style and the content of Nha Nhac were strictly institutionalized, reflecting high esthetic standards, thoughts and philosophy of the ruling monarchy. Nha Nhac is considered to be a ritual part of big ceremonies, a mysterious sound connecting heaven, earth and human ancestors. Nha Nhac symbolizes the power of the Court and the perception of the interaction between man (son of heaven), ancestors, heaven and earth.


Orchestras of Nguyen Dynasty were much more diversified than those of previous dynasties: 6 different orchestras playing Nha Nhac, Huyen Nhac, Dai Nhac, Tieu Nhac, Nhac Ty Chung and Ty Khanh and Quan Nhac. The number of music players in an orchestra was gradually expanded. Under Gia Long's rule (1802-1819), Viet Tuong Doi (a big orchestra of the Court) was formed consisting of around 200 artists. Musical pieces were also developed to 10 pieces of Dai Nhac and 15 pieces of Tieu Nhac. They were performed in important ceremonies or entertaining activities of the Court.

At the end of the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue Court Music comprised Great Music and Small Music only. They were often performed with Court dances; the dances are different in terms of kinds and services. Up to now, 11 dances have been preserved. The Court dances were mostly ceremonial and performed in an elegant, solemn and respectful manner.

After 1945, Nha Nhac lost its original popularity and was in danger of vanishing. However, it has been restored since 1975. The present preserved Court Music represents a vivid demonstration of the creativity in the development of Vietnamese culture.

On 7 November 2003, Nha Nhac-Hue Court Music was recognized by UNESCO as the Oral and Intangible Cultural Masterpiece of Humanity. In November 2008, UNESCO listed Nha Nhac-Vietnamese Court Music among the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


THE keeper of THE nha nhac Spirit



Born into an artistic family, Tran Kich began to learn Nha Nhac lessons when he was a child. Nha Nhac seemed to be circulating naturally inside himself. His love and passion for Nha Nhac came from his father, a famous Nha Nhac artisan.

Tran Kich was engaged in professional art at the age of 16. He took part in the Court Music troupe of Nguyen Dynasty. Artist Tran Kich had been seen as a living treasure of the Hue Court Music with his rich and huge experience about Nha Nhac in its original.

Stimulated with strong passion to Nha Nhac, the artist had worked so industriously and dedicately that he could play without a flaw traditional musical instruments such as big clarinet, medium-sized clarinet, two-stringed zither, moon-shaped lute, monochords and flute… for Tuong music of Hue, Buddhist music, court dance music and accompanying music for Hue songs...

With more than 70 years of professional experience, Tran Kich had spent much of his time to research musical notation. He contributed a great deal to the recording of 30 pieces of both Great Music and Small Music. When he played, the soul of two-chord fiddles, moon-shaped lutes, monochords, flutes and clarinets… seemed to be lifted to new heights. He was skillful with techniques of pressing, stroking, rolling and shaking which could be both solemn and endearing. He conducted a lot of performance tours to many other countries to introduce Nha Nhac to the world.


In order to transfer his experience and Nha Nhac spirit to the young generations, he joined Hue Conservatory of Music since its foundation in 1962 and gave lectures on many musical instruments including moon-shaped lutes, two-stringed zithers, monochords, clarinets... He also provided training courses on Great Music, Small Music and Hue songs. Graduated from this school, many of his students have achieved a lot of successes in their careers and become famous artists like Meritorious Artist La Cam Van, Ton Nu Le Hoa, Quy Cat, Nguyen Dinh Van and Tran Thao...

In recognition of artist Tran Kich's outstanding contribution to the development of Hue Court Music, in 2000, the Ministry of Culture and Information presented him the Medal of Cultural Soldier. Three years later, Tran Kich was conferred the title "Viet Nam's Folk Artisan". Notably, in 2008, on the occasion of Hue festival, the French Ministry of Culture, through the French Embassy in Ha Noi, bestowed the title "Knight of Culture and Art of France" on him.


On 8 December 2010, the "Living Treasure" of Hue Court Music drew his last breath at his resident No. 34/4 lane 320, Bach Dang street, Hue city at the age of 90. Although artist Tran Kich passed away, his invaluable cultural treasure has still existed, being preserved and further developed by his son, artist Tran Thao.




The Art of Don Ca Tai Tu music and song in the South of Viet Nam (also known a Don Ca Tai Tu) is a unique folk art of Viet Nam. It came into existence in the late 19th century and has been sustainably promoted. Don Ca Tai Tu is an essential part in the cultural and spiritual life of the Southern people during festivals, lunar New Year celebrations (Tet), death anniversaries, wedding parties, birthday parties and reunions... The death anniversary of the founder of Don Ca Tai Tu is observed annually on the 12th of the 8th lunar month.

Don Ca Tai Tu is an art of musical instruments (Don) and singing (Ca) which was composed by the Southern people for relaxing after work. The word "Tai Tu" means talented and knowledgeable performers in classical music. At its inception, Don Ca Tai Tu began with playing musical instruments, then singing came out to be called "Don Ca". This art was evolved through inheriting and absorbing Court Music, folk songs as well as combining cultural elements of Khmer, Chinese and Western people.

Don Ca Tai Tu originated from ceremonial music, Court music and folk songs of the Central and the South of Viet Nam. The repertoire of Don Ca Tai Tu is based on 20 original tunes and 72 classical tunes for 4 melodies which include 6 Bac songs (expressing joys and happiness), 7 Ha songs (solemn, used for ceremonies), 3 Nam songs (expressing comfort and meditation) and 4 Oan songs (describing sorrows and separation).

Musical instruments in a Don Ca Tai Tu orchestra include the moon-shaped lute, 16-string zither two-stringed fiddle, pear-shaped lute, two-string lute, bamboo flute and percussion... Since 1930s, the violin and guitar have been added to the orchestra.

Don Ca Tai Tu is the community art, reflecting people's inner feelings and sentiments, and compatible with life of industriousness, generosity, openness and courage of the Southern people. The popularity of Don Ca Tai Tu also helps preserve and promote other social customs such as festivals, oral culture and handicrafts... Currently, more than 2,500 clubs, groups and families in 21 provinces and cities in the South of Viet Nam are practicing Don Ca Tai Tu.

On 5 December 2013, Don Ca Tai Tu was officially recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.



Fortunately born into a family with four generations of musicians knowledgeable in traditional music and Don Ca Tai Tu, Professor Tran Van Khe breathed the air of traditional music from early childhood. It is therefore natural for him to develop a lifelong passion for Don Ca Tai Tu.

In 1959, Professor Khe gave a talk and performed the Don Ca Tai Tu by himself in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Admiring his talent, musician Nguyen Van Thuong called him a "Master" of Tai Tu music. In 1960, he was invited to talk about Vietnamese music in 24 places in Switzerland. He also received an invitation to England to talk about various performing styles of Don Ca Tai Tu. In the same year, he was nominated for a member of the International Music Council. He has been invited to many international conferences and workshops, held talks and conducted training activities in more than 40 countries all over the world, wherein he seized every opportunity to introduce and promote Vietnamese traditional arts to the international audience. In his words, Vietnamese traditional music is "our own flower that other countries do not have. We should introduce it to the world so that they can learn, understand, enjoy and appreciate the music in such a way that they would respect our country more. Furthermore, our traditional music will contribute to enriching the colorful flower tapestry of world music".

Professor Khe has created his own concise and unique description of the Vietnamese traditional music: singing in repetition, playing instruments on prolonged notes and in the principle of "correct notes with flowers" (ornamenting the notes of the melodies and main rhythmic patterns); while playing a traditional musical instrument, the right hand produces the sound and the left hand lengthens, nurtures and turns it into melodies; singing is handed down orally while playing an instrument can be handed down by fingers... These are typical features of Vietnamese music that the audience appreciates.

In his special endeavor to promote the beauty of the Vietnamese traditional music, Professor Khe was successful in illustrating different tones and sounds of Don Ca Tai Tu on various musical instruments like sixteen stringed zithers, moon-shaped lutes and two string fiddles.


Though settled down in France since 1949, Professor Khe decided to spend the rest of his life in Viet Nam in 2002. Ever since, Professor Tran Van Khe has conducted many training tours to give lectures on Vietnamese traditional art.

At the age of 94, Professor Khe is still very insightful, enthusiastic and passionate when talking about Vietnamese traditional art. He gave advices that "keeping the soul of Don Ca Tai Tu means to keep its styles and improvisation". Because of this improvisation, generations of Vietnamese people have used the word "play" Don Ca Tai Tu instead of the word "perform" when talking about this art.

A genuine Don Ca Tai Tu performer never plays the music for living purposes. The performers gather in a place to play Don Ca Tai Tu whenever they are inspired. In order to become a true Don Ca Tai Tu singer, the person must spend much time thoroughly learning and practicing the music. Nowadays, Don Ca Tai Tu has been over commercialized, therefore, it is necessary to restore the original style of Don Ca Tai Tu with music players interacting while improvising. In a Don Ca Tai Tu orchestra, the moon-shaped lute is the main instrument which helps to set the tones of other players. The six-stringed lute with a wide range of tones should play an inspiring role, however, it is not allowed to overwhelm or replace other traditional musical instruments in the orchestra.

With more than half a century living and teaching at the Sorbonne University, France, Professor Khe has an earnest desire to change the methods of training and hand down the art of traditional music, including Don Ca Tai Tu to trainees in Viet Nam. "We need to maintain Vietnamese training methods in general education and should not follow Western methodologies, which does not conform to our traditional music", he said. Traditional music should be integrated into school music programs; this is not to train school pupils to become artists, but to help them gain basic understanding of this invaluable art inherited from our forefathers, he added.




Quan Ho singing is a folk culture/art of the people in Bac Ninh villages in the North of Viet Nam. Quan Ho Bac Ninh comprises folk songs of the Red River Delta, mainly found in Kinh Bac region (provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang). Quan Ho Bac Ninh activities take place at the confluence of the 3 rivers which are Cau River, Ngu Huyen Khe River and Tieu Tuong River with the center at Bac Ninh city (now is Bac Ninh province) where 31 out of 49 original Quan Ho villages are located.

Quan Ho folk songs are the most melodic in Vietnamese folk-song genres handed down orally from generation to generation. This kind of art has more than 400 song lyrics, sung with 213 different melody variations. A song lyric includes two parts: the principal and secondary lyrics. The lyrics of Quan Ho folk songs come from poems and folk verses of Viet Nam, mostly 6 syllable and 8 syllable verse couplets, modified 6 syllable and 8 syllable couplets, 4 syllable or mixed 4 syllable ones, which are often clear, exemplary and rich in metaphors. These are the core of the songs, representing the main content of the song which is often about love between couples. The secondary lyrics include words that are added to the melodies, such as hi, u hu, a ha...

Quan Ho folk songs are sung in duets between groups of male and female. A group of female from one village sings with a group of male from another one in similar melodies, but with different lyrics, and always with changing voices. In each group, one person takes the lead and another plays a secondary role, but the two should be in perfect harmony and at the same timbre. This kind of art contains many elements such as music, lyrics, costumes and festivals... Quan Ho Bac Ninh folk songs sung in duets illustrate close-knit relations between male singers (Lien Anh) and female singers (Lien Chi), expressing the deep community connection, respect for justice and the emotional states which are typical of the culture of the people in Kinh Bac. The women traditionally wear distinctive large round hats, scarves, halter tops, skirts, belts and sandals; the men's costumes include turbans, umbrellas and tunics.

Nowadays, there are 41 Quan Ho artist singers in Bac Ninh province and among them 32 are living in Bac Ninh city. On 30 September 2009, Quan Ho folk songs were recognized by UNESCO as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.




Born in 1922, Nguyen Thi Nguyen started singing Quan Ho at the age of 10. Now at the age of 92, she is among the few remaining singers who are referred to as "living heritages" of Quan Ho. She is the 3rd generation member of a family embedded with traditional Quan Ho in Kha Le village (Bo Son district, Bac Ninh province). Her mother, Mrs. Sau Cay, was a famous master of Quan Ho in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang. She used to accompany her mother to Quan Ho training courses. In her teenage years, Mrs. Nguyen followed her aunt to learn Quan Ho singing with female singers in the village, thus she had chances to learn and exchange Quan Ho singing skills in ceremonies and festivals in the village communal houses or pagodas. As a result, Mrs. Nguyen could sing accurately hundreds of melodic variations. At the same time, she was able to compose new Quan Ho songs, which contributed to enriching Quan Ho Bac Ninh folk songs such as A Banyan Tree at the entrance to a village, Giong Festival...

Keen on preserving the traditional Quan Ho, after harvest time, she herself conducts Quan Ho training courses for younger generations. She trained a lot of famous male and female singers of Kinh Bac and contributed to transferring the love and passion of Quan Ho to her successors. Despite her age, she still welcomes children and those who are really interested in this art to come her house to study ancient principles and features of Quan Ho folk songs.

When talking about the preservation and promotion of Quan Ho, Mrs. Nguyen believes that in order to maintain this art forever, we must, first of all, train masters of Quan Ho, those who could absorb the essence of Quan Ho and understand traditional principles of the art. Applying this methodology in the training, every year she trained around 20 students of the province's Art and Cultural College. Many of them have become famous Quan Ho singers such as Tran Thi Thuy, Duyen Thi Huong and Truong Khac Chien... They have learnt from Mrs. Nguyen not only Quan Ho quintessence but also her strong determination to preserve and promote Quan Ho singing. The art of Quan Ho inherited from her then will be continuously handed down to younger generations. As such, the quintessence of this Intangible Cultural Heritage will last forever. In order to honor her contribution to the preservation and promotion of Quan Ho folk songs, in 2003, the Ministry of Culture and Information granted her the title "Quan Ho Artist".





Xoan singing has existed for more than 2,000 years. It is an extremely invaluable folk cultural heritage. Xoan singing or Khuc Mon Dinh (singing at the communal house) is a kind of performance art relating to worshipping gods, arose during Hung Kings times. It was originated from Phu Tho province then extended to the villages along the two banks of Lo river and Red river, even to Vinh Phuc province. Four old Xoan guilds including An Thai, Phu Duc, Kim Doi and Thet are in two communes of Kim Duc and Phuong Lau (Viet Tri city, Phu Tho province).

From time immemorial, Van Lang people used to perform Xoan singing in Spring to welcome the New Year. There are three forms of Xoan singing, namely the worship singing to commemorate Hung Kings and village guardian gods, the ritual singing to pray for good crops, good health and the festive singing which is a form of love duets. All old Xoan songs were originated from ancient villages in the center of Van Lang nation in the times of the Hung Kings.


Spiritual factors help form an important part in the nature of Xoan singing, reflecting belief in fertility of the community. It is performed at communal houses as a ritual of worshipping genies in Spring which is a break time after a year of paddy cultivation with 2 crops and 4 seasons Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter. In farmers' belief, Xoan singing represents their wishes and prayers to the supernatural gods and saints, who will protect and bring good lucks and prosperity to them, and decide their life and death. It reflects moral principles and code of behavior between the King and his subjects, relationship between the husband and wife and among parents and children. It also expresses emotions and wishes, acts as a bond of community solidarity and between the superior and subordinates, helping to build up equality and democracy regardless of status and wealth.

This art has been nurtured and developed by a lot of prominent persons, writers and poets. A great contribution came from Mdm. Le Thi Lan Xuan, the 4th wife of King Ly Than Tong (1127-1138) who was accredited with preserving and promoting Xoan singing in Phu Tho. In order to express deep gratitude to her and avoid calling her name, Xuan (Spring) guilds (other name of Xoan guilds, since the songs are sung in Spring) were changed to Xoan guilds.

The music and songs in Xoan singing are used in performance, having a wide range of music types. In Xoan singing, dancing and singing are always associated; a drum is used as the main musical instrument.

On 6 December 2011, UNESCO officially recognized Phu Tho's Xoan singing as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity that needs to be urgently protected.




An Thai village, Phuong Lau commune, Viet Tri city (Phu Tho) is the homeland of many famous Xoan guild leaders, among those is artist Nguyen Thi Lich. Being passionate about Xoan singing, she used to follow her grandfather's Xoan guild to deliver Xoan singing performances during her childhood. At the age of 13, she learnt by heart all the 14 different melodies and became the youngest female singer of An Thai village. Now at the age of over 60 (born in 1955), Mrs. Lich is considered as the only female Xoan guild leader in Phu Tho province.

Concerning over the possible disappearance of this traditional art, Mrs. Lich spares no effort to keep on and preserve this invaluable Xoan singing, at the same time transfer the love of this music to younger generations. Since 1999, she has actively worked to restore the ancient Xoan singing, tried to teach younger generations about this art.

Her efforts finally paid off when, in 2006, Phu Tho province decided to re-establish An Thai Xoan guild. From a group of less than 20 singers, the guild now has been expanded to include 85 ones. Xoan singing that seemed to be almost disappeared was performed again in every corner of the village. At the moment, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lich has been teaching about 40 Xoan classes with the total number of participants up to over 1,000 singers. The first Xoan singers in these classes have become leading male instrumentalists (Kep) and leading female singers (Đao) of An Thai Xoan music guild, contributing to spreading the singing to other villages. These people are following her in accomplishing her work handing down Xoan singing to younger generations.



At the moment, she is delivering free Xoan singing lectures at her house to both children and adults those who love this particular traditional music. Together with Mrs. Lich's passion and dedication to Xoan singing, people in this ancestral land once again have a chance to find their love with Xoan singing - a returning journey to their origins. In 2011, Xoan singing was officially recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The joy of Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lich and An Thai villagers was multiplied, thus further encouraging them to carry on the preservation and promotion of the art of Xoan singing.

In 2005, artist Nguyen Thi Lich was granted the title "Folk Master Artist" by the State. Currently, she is among the 7 master artists of An Thai Xoan guild. Every year, on the occasion of Hung Kings' Temple Festival, Mrs. Lich together with male instrumentalists, female singers and artists of An Thai village passionately deliver Xoan singing performances, introducing this music art to local and international visitors.

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lich's wish is to take Xoan singing out of the state of urgent protection in the year 2015. With what she has achieved so far, her goal is not far away.




Vi and Giam folk songs of Nghe Tinh occupy an important position in the cultural and spiritual life of people of Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces in the Central of Viet Nam. Although a number of studies have been done, no single one can determine the time when this art was born. However, in great poet Nguyen Du's works dating back to the 18th century, people can find the existence of this art through his verses.

According to statistics of 2013, in Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces, there existed 260 villages that still deliver Vi and Giam folk performances with 75 Vi and Giam singing clubs and around 1,500 vocalists.

Originally, the lyrics and tunes of Vi and Giam were simple, rough and somewhat primitive, portraying weaving and farming activities... They were later developed into well-styled, highly structured and diversified love duets. 

The word Vi comes from "vi von" (comparison), however, in local dialect, "Vi" is another word of "voi" (repartee) which means vocalists sing in a call and response pattern. Male singers call from outside of the house, female singers sing in response while spinning and weaving cloth. Giam means transplanting rice and making conical hats in local dialect. Giam is also a verb meaning "weaving" or "stitching up" the hole in a plaid. It is called Giam because in every song, at least one sentence is repeated between the two cantos, like transplanting rice in empty spaces. Vi and Giam singing is categorized in accordance with different production environments, such as 'weaving Vi', "plaiting Vi", 'transplantation Vi" and "firewood Vi".


Vi lyrics utilize traditional poetic forms including a verse pair of six and eight syllable lines; double sevens, six and eight... Vi singing leaves room for singers to improvise. The pitches are low or high depending on the length of the verses and tunes.

Giam is performed in various types known as "lullaby Giam", "narrative Giam" and "advice Giam"… Unlike Vi singing, Giam tunes have clear tones and rhythms. The lyrics of Giam singing are sometimes narrative, humorous, satirical, witty and at times romantic.

Performance space of Vi, Giam folk singing is large and often associated with typical features such as singing while working, traveling or singing at festivals, Lunar New Year; it can also be duets between men and women, expression of love: lyrics revealing the inner soul; expression of communication: lyrics describing the activities of the village or commune; spiritual expression: worshipping, ceremonies of sacrifice; education…

Transcending time, Vi and Giam folk songs of Nghe Tinh have proved its vitality. The quintessence of Vi and Giam folk songs also lies in the beauty of contemporary songs of Nghe An and Ha Tinh.

On 27 November 2014, at the 9th session of the Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage's, UNESCO recognized the Vi and Giam folk songs as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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