A Journey through Aesthetic Realms
 
Traditional Folk Music from Northern Âu Lạc (Vietnam)      
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Today’s A Journey through Aesthetic Realms will be presented in Aulacese (Vietnamese), with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Âu Lạc (Vietnam) is a nation with a long-standing traditional culture. Aulacese musical heritage is bountiful; since ancient times, many soul-stirring musical instruments have been created with diverse sounds like those of the copper drum, gong, lithophone, bamboo xylophone, cymbals, and panpipe.

In 2003, Elegant Music, a style of Huế royal court music, was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an intangible cultural heritage of the world. Âu Lạc’s music represents the unique features of each region, for example, Quan Họ folksongs in the north, Huế tunes in the central, and modern folk opera in the south. In addition, there are many other forms of music, including hò, lý, ceremonial songs, Aulacese classical theatre, chèo traditional opera, hồ quảng opera, and so on. Indeed, the essence of music is imbued in the hearts of people in this beautiful country, and has been cultivated until this day.

Xẩm singing is an Aulacese genre used by the troubadours in the olden time. According to the Đại Nam National Language Dictionary compiled by scholar Paulus Huỳnh Tịnh Của, the word “xẩm” means “dark” or “blind.” Legend has it that xẩm singing was founded by Prince Trần Quốc Đĩnh, a son of King Trần Thánh Tông in the 13th century. The prince himself became sightless after a calamity which forced him to live among the commoners. He kindheartedly taught xẩm singing to the blind to give them a means to earn a living by performing on the streets.

Therefore, xẩm singing is often associated with blind minstrels. Nowadays, wandering xẩm singing no longer exists, but has become an on-stage performance as a unique traditional art. Besides the main styles such as market, love or ten favors of gratitude, xẩm singers also perform other folk tunes beautifully. Musical instruments which accompany xẩm singing include the two-string lute, two-string vertical fiddle, a thin drum, a set of wooden bells, and sometimes the flute.

In a gathering with a small group of our Association members some years past, Supreme Master Ching Hai was inspired to spontaneously compose and sing in the xẩm style a poem she had written in her late 20s in Germany. The poem was originally written in English which the poet herself translated into Aulacese (Vietnamese). We now invite you to enjoy an excerpt of the xẩm singing “We Don't Live More Than One Hundred Years!” composed and sung by Supreme Master Ching Hai.

SORRY darling if I could wait no more, I am not a nun, and never want to be so. You don’t wish to share your life, So let me go on my way!

I know you think I am crazy, But what difference will that be? I live my life as I please No matter what others think. Everyone has different things!

Quan Họ is an Aulacese ancient folk song genre which is very popular in the delta region of northern Âu Lạc. This singing style expresses sweet sentiments; it is rich in tunes and closely associated with activities taking place at the courtyard in the temple or communal house, by the banyan tree or river pier. Quan Họ’s content often portrays the importance of kindness and loyalty in all relations in the family and community.

A letter sent to a kindred soul, reminding someone afar not to forget his home village where many hearts earnestly await.

“Sending a letter In the letter, you conveyed a few heartfelt words of your own sorrow.” “Sending a Letter,” a Quan họ folk tune, will be presented with vocals by Thúy Hường and the Quan họ Bắc Ninh Group.

For years I have searched for you Meeting you now, I still think it’s a dream.

Sending a letter, you sat there writing, sending a letter In the letter, you conveyed a few heartfelt words of your own sorrow. Sorrow of yours, O darling! Tilting and tumbling the coins are tilting and tumbling I must praise the person who cleverly arranges the coins in a hundred ways Yet they tilt anyhow Tilt they do anyhow, O darling!

A chopstick of young bamboo holding up proudly, a chopstick of young bamboo I must praise the person who cleverly shapes and whittles it in a hundred ways Yet the chopstick is bent anyhow Bent it is anyhow, O darling!

Village festivals are occasions to strengthen bonds of affection with simple singings and fragrant quids of betels.

“In the festival under the bright moonlight, may I offer a green betel of deep taste? In the village and fields we cheerfully celebrate a harmonious bond predestined by Heaven.” We now invite you to join in the cheerful atmosphere of a northern Aulacese song “Heartfelt Exchange Singing,” performed by singers Ngọc Thân, Thái Sơn, Thu Hằng, and Minh Thúy.

This is a betel quid of affection A lovers’ quid of betel for you and me. This betel quid I prepared last night. I offer it to you, hiding from my parents. O Eldest and Second brothers!

To be in love and stand yonder It’d be better that one stands near than stands yonder and casts a glance here. I’m still young.

I’m also young.

I’m still young.

I’m also young.

I wish we can become children of the same family.

I’ll go home and tell my parents.

Enjoy a quid of betel. As we meet, enjoy a quid of betel. Though you won’t eat, take it to please each other. This is a betel quid of affection.

This is a betel quid of affection. Chew it and add a rosy hue to your lips and mine. A betel quid to our devotion!

In the festival under the bright moonlight, may I offer a green betel of deep taste? In the village and fields we cheerfully celebrate a harmonious bond predestined by Heaven.

A bamboo raft is worth three “quan.”

A good girl goes to the festival to find her mate. O Eldest and Second sisters!

O Eldest and Second brothers! A dragon boat is worth three “quan.” It’s worth one’s searching effort to attend the festival. Know you not Eldest and Second brothers?

Eldest and Second sisters are still single. An empty boat is worth three “quan.” Go to the festival by the river with alluvial deposits. I invite Eldest and Second sisters of Twin Village.

Eldest and Second brothers of Thatch Village. A sampan is worth three “quan.” It’s worth one’s name to attend the festival. I invite Eldest and Second brothers to come out and sing for fun.

Eldest and Second sisters, come out to sing for fun.

Above is the azure cloud, and under the sky, a white horse is running about.

We want to join in a happy marriage.

Yet we have no affinity, thus Heaven ties not the thread.

Even with rubbish at bamboo hedges, if fate reckons, Heaven would tie you in.

A red thread costs three “đồng.”

Yet you mend the raincoat instead of the torn shirt.

It’s very arduous for me, O beloved, to tread upstream then down dale.

An empty boat is worth three “quan.” Go to the festival for the boat to be united with the river.

Eldest and Second sisters are still charming.

Eldest and Second brothers are attractive.

Eldest and Second sisters are still charming.

Eldest and Second brothers (sisters) are attractive (charming).

In the months of separation, sweet images and tender memories stream back as one longs for her companion.

“First, I miss the two faithful companions Second, I miss the graceful manners Third, I miss the voice Fourth, I miss two like-minded spirits.” We now invite you to enjoy the song “Ten Things to Miss,” a Quan họ folk tune performed by singer Mai Phương and the Quan họ Bắc Ninh Group.

First, I miss the two faithful companions Second, I miss the graceful manners Third, I miss the voice Fourth, I miss two like-minded spirits.

Fifth, I miss the one with charming smiles

Sixth, I miss the words of regard I sent to you Seventh, I miss my kindred soul Eighth, I miss the letter sent with the swallow Ninth, I miss a couple of loving friends

Tenth, I miss your faithfulness.

First, I miss the two faithful companions Second, I miss the graceful manners Third, I miss the voice Fourth, I miss two like-minded spirits.

Fifth, I miss the one with charming smiles

Sixth, I miss the words of regard I sent to you Seventh, I miss my kindred soul Eighth, I miss the letter sent with the swallow Ninth, I miss a couple of loving friends

Tenth, I miss your faithfulness.

Supreme Master Ching Hai lovingly sent gifts to the artists participating in the Aulacese traditional folk music program on Supreme Master Television. Singer Thu Hằng, who performed the song “Heartfelt Exchange Singing,” expressed her thoughts as follows:

My respectful greetings to Supreme Master Ching Hai and all viewers. I received Supreme Master Ching Hai’s gift of a book entitled “The Noble Wilds.” This is a very attractive, very unique and appealing book. I feel that Supreme Master Ching Hai is a really special person. Allow me to send my respectful thanks to Supreme Master Ching Hai, and aside from her writing books, I hope Supreme Master Ching Hai will create many more wonderful works and many more famous poems. I would like to wish Master good health and all the best luck.

Singer Thúy Hường, who performed the song “Sending a Letter,” and singer Mai Phương, who performed the song “Ten Things to Miss,” have participated previously on Supreme Master Television folk music programs. They also received gifts and well-wishes from Supreme Master Ching Hai.

Thank you for watching today’s program introducing some traditional folk music genres from northern Âu Lạc. Please tune in to Supreme Master Television for more Aulacese folk music in future broadcasts. Coming up next is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, after Noteworthy News. So long for now.

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