Experimental music project highlights traditional values

Friday, 2020-06-05 16:11:47
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Young artist from Dom Dom Centre performing experimental music.
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NDO – With the aspiration of forming and developing an experimental music community, musician Kim Ngoc, who is also Director of Dom Dom (Firefly) Experimental Music and Arts Centre, and her colleagues, have officially organised a project entitled “Shapes of Music” for young experimental music artists.

Musician Kim Ngoc granted an interview to a reporter from the Thoi Nay (Present Times) publication of Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper.

Q: Could you share with us about the new project “Shapes of Music”?

A: The project “Shapes of Music” was financed by the British Council’s FAMLAB (Film, Archive and Music Lab) Fund. The centre will select four or five musicians or groups of young artists, who are living in Vietnam, to practice experimental music and new or cross-disciplinary forms. They will be accompanied by mentors who have experience in musical activities and approach a diverse range of Vietnamese traditional music and stage arts. They will then develop their ideas and create four or five new musical compositions within six months, starting from mid-June to December this year.

After performances in Hanoi at the end of the period, the most outstanding works will be performed at the 2021 Hanoi New Music Festival. The project will create the most favourable conditions for the artists to devote their whole mind to learning and improving their skillsets so that they can create new and high-quality art works. With the first project, we will direct young artists to topics related to the origin of the nation’s traditional cultures.

Musician Kim Ngoc

Q: Why did you choose young artists as the central objective of the project?

A: Many Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, are facing a risk of a break in traditional values due to the impacts of the modern lifestyle and culture. Modern Vietnamese music was formed from foreign cultural sources and has been developed according to the rise of the market economy. Therefore, modern music and young music lovers have been gradually separated from their traditional cultural roots. The lack of spaces and activities for our ancient culture is also a main reason. We want to create an effective schedule to help young people connect with several traditional art forms, including tuong (classical drama), cheo (traditional opera), ca tru (ceremonial singing), quan ho (love duet singing) and chau van (spiritual singing).

Q: Could you talk about the role of contemporary artists and artisans?

A: The contemporary artists, who were invited to join “Shapes of Music”, will be not only judges to select qualified young artists but also mentors and partners of young people during the process of learning traditional music from artisans and creating new art works. They are well-known contemporary artists in Hanoi such as Kim Ngoc, Son X and Alec Schachner. The young artists will have the chance to talk with many artisans in many ancient art forms, including quan ho singers Nguyen Thi Buom and Nguyen Duc Nhuan, ca tru artisan Pham Dinh Hoang and meritorious artist Dang Ba Tai from Vietnam National Tuong Theatre. The special feature of the project is that each contemporary artist has their own approach, so they will choose different methods for young artists to learn traditional arts.

Q: What do you think about the efforts made by you and your colleagues as contemporary music is still “selective” about its audiences?

A: I think that the Dom Dom (Firefly) Experimental Music and Arts Centre has made significant progress as the experimental music attracted audiences although the numbers are limited. Audiences of European experimental music are mostly old people. However, I have high expectations for Vietnamese young people because in addition to their love for traditional arts, they have a freshness like "white paper" so that they should be easily able to receive contemporary values.

Thank you very much for your interview!