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82 years old folk artisan still singing (December 11, 2003)

A 82 year old woman Trinh Thi Ram in Quyen Son village, Kim Bang district, Ha Nam province together with her dam (a kind of folk music) songs, made a performing tour to 14 European countries in a dance named ‘Drought and Rain’ by Easola Thuy, a Vietnamese French dancer. Mrs Ram has recently been awarded ‘Folk Artisan’ title.

In a house of compassion (the husband and son of Mrs Ram are both war martyrs), Thinh Thi Ram spoke about her art activity during her life.

At the age of 12, Ram had a chance to learn the art of Dam melodies. The art has attracted her since then.

In 38 melodies of Dam songs, half is for dance music and half is for singing. Dam singing is performed with just two bamboo castanets drummed in time with the song melody.

For a long time, Dam singing in Quyen Son seemed to have sunk into oblivion. This was until 1991 when the communal administration decided to restore the traditional Dam singing. Trinh Thi Ram was asked to restore the traditional art as she is the only one in the area who now can still remember all 38 melodies of the art. Then, everyday, she went to select girls to teach them the art. Since that year, Dam singing has been heard ringing in all festivals of Quyen Son village.

In 1994, Easola Thuy came to Vietnam to look for materials for her art works and she met Trinh Thi Ram. Then, the two collaborated with each other to choreograph a new Dam performance named ‘Drought and Rain.’

The performance took Trinh Thi Ram to 14 European countries and the tour was very successful. They received warm acclaims from overseas Vietnamese after their performances.

When being asked: "What do you think of that success?" she said "I am very happy because Quyen Son dam singing in particular and Vietnamese culture in general have chances to exchange with the world. From that, they can understand more about the vitality and spirit of the Vietnamese people."

After the performance tour, Trinh Thi Ram returned to her simple daily life and continues to pass on the art to the younger generations.

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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