Vietnamese Court Music

Article

One of the research themes of the Asian Music Unit (AsMU) is ‘Safeguarding Heritage, Music Revival and Cultural Policy’. Under this theme, the Director of AsMU, Dr Barley Norton, conducted a research project on the revival of Vietnamese court music, known as nhã nhạc (or ‘elegant music’), which was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003.

The video extracts on this site feature performances by different court music orchestras in the city of Hue in central Vietnam. For further information about nhã nhạc and the videos see Barley Norton’s chapter “Orchestrating the Nation: Court Orchestras, Nationalism and Agency in Vietnam” published in the book Global Perspectives on Orchestras: Essays on Collective Creativity and Social Agency, edited by Tina K. Ramnarine (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

 

Video extract 1: ‘Great Music’ - Vietnamese Court Music Performance at the Duyệt Thị Đường Theatre in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012

A short suite of pieces called 'Mã vũ', 'Du xuân' and 'Tẩu mã' ('Horse’s Dance', 'Spring Walk', and 'Riding Horse') belonging to the style of court music known as ‘Great Music’ (Đại nhạc). Performed by the Hue Traditional and Royal Arts Theatre. Shot by Barley Norton.

 

Video extract 1: ‘Great Music’ - Vietnamese Court Music Performance at the Duyệt Thị Đường Theatre in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012

Video extract 2: ‘Small Music’ - Vietnamese Court Music Performance at the Duyệt Thị Đường Theatre in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012

A short suite of pieces called 'Ngũ đối thượng', 'Long ngâm' and 'Tiểu khúc' (‘The First of Five Responses’, ‘Song of the Dragon’, and ‘Small Piece’) belonging to the sytle know as ‘Small Music’ (Tiểu nhạc). Performed by the Hue Traditional and Royal Arts Theatre. Shot by Barley Norton.

Video extract 2: ‘Small Music’ - Vietnamese Court Music Performance at the Duyệt Thị Đường Theatre in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012

Video extract 3: ‘Lantern Dance’ - Vietnamese Court Music Performance at the Duyệt Thị Đường Theatre in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012 

A performance of ‘Lantern Dance’ (‘Lục cúng hoa đăng’) by the Hue Traditional and Royal Arts Theatre. Shot by Barley Norton. 

Video extract 3: ‘Lantern Dance’ - Vietnamese Court Music Performance at the Duyệt Thị Đường Theatre in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012

Video extract 4: ‘Nam Giao Sacrifice Clip 1’ - Ritual music performed at the Nam Giao Esplanade in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014. 

A performance of the ‘Small Music’ piece ‘Long ngâm’ and the ‘Great Music’ piece ‘Đăng đàn đơn’ by members of the Hue Traditional and Royal Arts Theatre. Shot by Barley Norton.

Video extract 4: ‘Nam Giao Sacrifice Clip 1’ - Ritual music performed at the Nam Giao Esplanade in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014.

Video extract 5: ‘Nam Giao Sacrifice Clip 2’ - Ritual music performed at the Nam Giao Esplanade in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014.

A performance of the ‘Great Music’ piece ‘Mã vũ’ by members of Hue Traditional and Royal Arts Theatre. Shot by Barley Norton

Video extract 5: ‘Nam Giao Sacrifice Clip 2’ - Ritual music performed at the Nam Giao Esplanade in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014.

Video extract 6: ‘Nam Giao Sacrifice Clip 3’ - Ritual music performed at the Nam Giao Esplanade in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014.

A performance of the ‘Great Music’ pieces ‘Phần hoá’ and ‘Kèn hồi’ by members of the Hue Traditional and Royal Arts Theatre. Shot by Barley Norton

Video extract 6: ‘Nam Giao Sacrifice Clip 3’ - Ritual music performed at the Nam Giao Esplanade in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014.

Video extract 7: ‘Buddhist Ritual’ - Extract from a Buddhist ritual held at Kim Tiên Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012. 

Music performed by Nguyễn Đình Vân (drums), Hồ Ái (shawm), Đức Kình (shawm). Shot by Barley Norton. 

Video extract 7: ‘Buddhist Ritual’ - Extract from a Buddhist ritual held at Kim Tiên Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam, August 2012.

Video extract 8: ‘Music Ancestor Worship’ - Extract from a ‘Ancestor worship ritual’ held in a special shrine dedicated to previous generations of musicians in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014.

The main ritual officiants are the musicians Nguyễn Khiếm, Hồ Viết Châu and Nguyễn Văn Ba and other performers are members of the Association of Hue Traditional Music. Shot by Barley Norton. 

Video extract 8: ‘Music Ancestor Worship’ - Extract from a ‘Ancestor worship ritual’ held in a special shrine dedicated to previous generations of musicians in Hue, Vietnam, April 2014.