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Oct 05, 2023 / 14:51

When young Hanoians love folk melodies

Enthusiastic youngsters from Hanoi are now trying to preserve folk tunes, the precious heritage of Vietnam's culture.

Eight o'clock on a Saturday night in October, a Quan Ho Bac Ninh folk singing class of the Cheo 48h Club at the Quan Nhan Community House, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi remains busy.

Inspiring young people

The young Lien Anh and Lien Chi or singers of the Quan Ho Folk Singing of the Cheo 48h Club. Photo: Cheo 48h Club

Wearing typical silk tunics, raven-beak scarves, and flat palm hats, nearly 20 young people in their 20s skillfully performed Nguoi oi nguoi o dung ve (Guest, Please! Don't rush home), one of the most popular Quan Ho songs with a soothing melody, often sung at the end of a meeting or to close a traditional Vietnamese festival.

Though their voices are not yet as clear as those of the Quan Ho singers, their new start in the journey to preserve humanity's intangible cultural heritage is what counts.

For years, traditional music genres such as Cheo or Vietnamese opera, Hat Xamor folk music popular in Northern Vietnam or Quan Ho have often been considered the hobby of the elderly. But now, it is for many young people in Hanoi who listen to and sing ancient melodies fervently, preserving and promoting the old art forms passed down from their ancestors.

The Cheo 48h Club is an association of young people promoting folk melodies for nearly 10 years. It now holds weekend singing classes for folk music lovers of all ages.

Thuy Trang, a student at Hanoi National University and a club member, said she has been practicing Quan Ho singing here for over three months. Immersing herself in folk songs every weekend night allows her to relax after long, stressful days of studying.

"Since I was a child I have always liked things related to traditional culture. I prefer the old weather-worn pages of books to e-readers. And instead of electronic music, I usually listen to folk songs to relieve my stress or relax," she says.

"I found that Quan Ho melodies are not only soft, but the lyrics are also meaningful. I'm so happy to be myself, a real Vietnamese girl, when I wear a traditional four-piece dress and the Quai Thao conical hat," she added.

 Young members of Cheo 48h Club.

Nguyen Hoang Hiep, Chairman of the Cheo 48h Club, told The Hanoi Times that their initiative began in 2014, when electronic music was in vogue.

"At that time, the members came up with the name 'Cheo 48h - Toi cheo ve que huong' or 'Cheo 48h- Back to Homeland', which expressed the spirit of swimming upstream to the origin. In the following years, incorporating folk music into contemporary works became a growing trend," he said.

Striving to preserve traditional values

The Cheo 48h Club not only practices Quan Ho but also other folk melodies. The young students here rehearse hard to participate in weekend performances on Hanoi pedestrian streets.

Their passion for traditional art has won over many spectators, while the older generation of singers rest assured that the art will survive.

 The young generation's passion for Vietnamese folk melodies ensures their eternity. Photo: Cheo 48h Club

According to Pham Thi Hanh, a spectator of Vietnamese folk melodies who is also a mother of three teenagers, she wants her children to experience traditional tunes so that they can understand the culture of Vietnam.

"My children are usually involved in modern games, besides many places of entertainment in Hanoi, especially downtown. So it's imperative that the kids learn about the culture of their ancestors. There should be more folk music clubs like Cheo 48h and folk performances for children and adults," she said.

Agreeing with Hanh, Dinh Thao, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Intangible Cultural Heritage Promotion Center, told The Hanoi Times that many young people have both enthusiasm and creativity for preserving folk culture.

"But it is often said that the traditional arts are generally unknown to young people, who have few opportunities to interact with them. I see in the young folks the successors who maintain and develop the art at the Cheo 48h Club, and for that, they are passionate and work hard every day."

According to Thao, in the early years, the club mainly gave concerts abroad. Since 2019, it has focused on activities at home, building communities, and supporting youth clubs to keep traditional art alive and thriving.

 The flame of love for traditional art still remains among young Hanoians.

In the coming time, the Center will continue to work with the club to preserve and promote the value of intangible heritage and help young people creatively preserve folk music genres and maintain their identity.
Cheo 48h Club trains a large number of folk music enthusiasts. In all its classes, artisans methodically teach the lyrics, beats, vibrato, staccato, and acting and the selection of appropriate ancient costumes for traditional songs.
Young Vietnamese who perform folk melodies for tourists, especially foreign tourists, not only build a cultural bridge but also spread the love of traditional arts to a wider community.
Although it is more or less popular now, Vietnamese folk melodies are still like a warm sea current flowing under the ice of time, just waiting for someone to bring it to the surface.