Tuesday, 11/08/2020
Court music
Update12/29/2017 5:07:17 PM

In history, Vietnamese early appeared in Hue. In the beginning of XIV century, Vietnamese founded villages and permanently settled down in Hue. Genres of culture and art have gradually been formed along with the development of economy, politics and social affairs. In addition to ethnic theaters' development, Hue classical opera (tuồng Huế) also gradually took shape. Since XVII century, Hue classical opera has formed and rapidly favored by local residents. Under Nguyen Lords, it became "national theater" in the south area.

Folk opera develops on the basis of cuong singing - a type of singing in which artists do not follow any script, but flexibly use available folk tunes on the stage. Folk opera first entered the court in Binh Dinh and then spreaded to Phu Xuan. As classical opera is appropriate for contemporary regime and policy as promoted in slogan "restore the Le, destroy the Trinh" (phu Le diet Trinh) as well as respecting royal lineage, Nguyen Lords encouraged its development. In other words, Nguyen dynasty has made considerable contribution to developing art and enhancing classical theater's script in Hue. On the other hand, country-wide artists and Hue locals also joined hand to make classical opera become a model and peak of Vietnamese opera.

Besides, classical opera also serve as a means of transmitting Vietnamese philosophy ideology and universe aspects. Court Music includes royal music system based on pentatonic scale and practical performances. It is also characterized by diverse instruments only used by specific artists on particular occasions. Of all instruments, drum plays an important role in royal orchestra. All members have to seriously focus to catch up with the long complicated ceremony.   

Incidents happened in Vietnam in XX century, especially the fall of monarchy and decades of wars had serious impact on Court Music. Without royal setting, Court Music tradition lose part of its original social function. Thanks to governmental and local community's support, royal instrumentalists are making effort to revive the tradition and pass on skills to young generations. A number of Court Music genres found in sacrifice ceremony and folk festivals have inspired Vietnamese contemporary music.

The second list of 28 intangible and oral cultural heritages of humanity was officially announced in Paris by Director General of UNESCO Kiochiro Matsuura on October 7th, 2003. Royal Court Music is the first Vietnamese intangible heritage enlisted. This achievement is the evidence for unceasing effort and wholehearted preparation of Central and local authority as well as Hue Monuments Conservation Center.

(Hue Monuments Conservation Center)