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Vietnam discusses traditional culture (Januray 01, 2005)

An instrument adapted from piano and klong-put.
VietNamNet – A conference themed ‘Traditional Stage and Music for Foreigners’ will be held in Hanoi, aiming to develop the cultural heritage and popularise it in the world.

According to Dr Nguyen Thuyet Phong, a musicologist who is one of the leaders of the conference, the event is to find ways to enhance awareness of Vietnam’s traditional music to foreigners.

He said Vietnam has richness of musical instruments, however many of them are relatively unknown. It is the time to bring them come out of darkness and give them their due exposure, he said.

Mr Phong said Americans are so delighted with Vietnam’s traditional instruments, such as T’rung, Klongput or monochord; but the instruments are being adapted for Western music, away from their true lines of traditional performance. “It is a major concern for musicologists as me, and is the main object in this conference”.

Foreigners are obsessed by images of war whenever they think of Vietnam, the conference is a opportunity to give them other angle of Vietnam, the musicologists said.

Mr Phong, together with folk-culture researchers as Prof Tran Van Khe, To Ngoc Thanh are arranging to open traditional music department in Hanoi Music Conservatory. The students there will study folk-musical heritage of both Vietnamese and selected nations in the world. It will be under Mr Phong's direction.

The conference next week will include hundreds of musicologists from Vietnam and throughout the world. Together discussing to develop Vietnam’s traditional music, foreign participants will bring their own traditional musical tools and documents for the future department of Hanoi Music Conservatory.

Mr Phong was born in a musical family in Can Tho, who moved to live in the US from 1975. In 1997, he was awarded the prize National Heritage Fellow in the White House for his contribution of protecting folk culture.

His recent book From Rice Paddies and Temple Yards is attracting public opinion in the US. He now lives in Ohio.

Reprinted from VietNamNet


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