The Hanoitimes - Quang Ninh has completed its preparation of six Then songs to join the 6th national Then singing festival in Ha Giang and featuring art troupes from 16 provinces and cities, slated for May 12 – 14.
The songs will be performed by 35 amateur artists of the Tay ethnic minority. Apart from traditional songs, new songs promoting the beauty of the country and people will also be presented, according to To Dinh Hieu, deputy head of the local Binh Lieu district’s central culture and head of the Quang Ninh delegation to the national festival.
Quang Ninh delegation will also bring to the festival Tap singing, which is very similar to Then but uses bells and chum xoc nhac (a musical instrument in form of a round chain of metal rings) instead of the conventional Dan Tinh, Hieu added.
As part of its participation in the festival, Quang Ninh will run a space displaying local products and a photo exhibition on Then singing practiced by Tay people in Binh Lieu.
Then singing is a form of art combining literature, music and dancing that has long been a religious and cultural practice of Tay, Nung, Thai ethnic groups in the northern mountainous area of Vietnam. As a unique combination of music and song, the singing is traditionally accompanied by a handmade gourd lute, called Dan Tinh or Tinh Tau.
Then singing, also called Lau Then, is a traditional kind of ritual singing of the Nung. Then singing reflects the Nung’s religious life as well as their cultural values. Then singing has been popularized to become a precious cultural asset of Vietnam. Then in each region has its own characteristics, but in general, they are melodious, romantic, and enticing. Visiting every Nung village in Lang Son we may hear Then singing harmoniously mingling with the sounds of nature and the rustling wind in the forest.
In 2017, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism signed a dossier on then singing practice of the Tay, Nung and Thai ethnic groups of Vietnam for submission to UNESCO asking for the singing form’s recognition as part of the world intangible cultural heritage.