Dr Joe Peters, Chief Consultant
Sonic Asia Music Consultants
126 Jalan Chempaka Kuning, Singapore 489155
Liaison Officer (Singapore)International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) UNESCO
External Music Examiner, University of Wales, UK
Co-Chairman, ASEAN Korea Traditional Orchestra, South Korea
Commission Mixte, (RILM) International Repertoire of Music Literature, USA
External Examiner, University of Wales, UK
Advisor, World Cultural Observatory, Hong Kong.
Technologies & Services:
Tremolo Orchestra (using Singapore-Vietnam designed musical instruments)
Listenology (New Laboratory Method)
SEMMI (Sonic Environment Music Measuring Index)
ceremony are enacted in different parts of a community domain.
- It seems to have originated in the Le Dynasty Era (1010AD – 1225 AD) when Vietnam was developing Buddhism country wide with the building of pagodas, and the Kingdom of Champa was influencing the court music of the Ly Dynasty with their Hinduistic features.
- It is a spring activity and connected to the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
- There are only four regions practicing this tradition of which only two genres can be documented to some extent.
- There are rules and repertoire and the Nom book is an indispensable part of the ritual as it contains what is described as the 14 tempos, which govern this God-worship tradition.
- Blended into God-worship is the undeniable feature of Xoan as a courting ritual as the performing cast is indisputably divided into male and female roles, costumes, song sets and choreography.
- The ritual itself is structured into three stages with definitive repertoire and choreography.
- The use of musical accompaniment is simple with one drum and a set of castanets, and this reinforces the ambulatory nature of the ritual.
- Poetry is a vital part of the song structure, but there is flexibility to add other genres like lullabies, love songs and humor songs.
- The use of metaphors in the extend form is a vital part of particular the third stage when it takes on a courting ambience with the imagery of “catching a fish in the net”.
- Xoan songs generally fall within the five-tone scale and have some similarities with Cheo and Muong songs (Nguyen, p. 584), in terms of scale systems but not content.
- There are melodies in Xoan that use leaps of sevenths (Nguyen, p.678).
- Legato tones play an important at the beginning of Xoan songs and these can be linked to interval jumps of seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths. These configurations are closely related to the lyrics with the sole purpose of emphasizing expressiveness. Sometimes there are even three tones in the legato at the beginning of the phrase that is being sung (Nguyen, pp. 690-693).
- Xoan singing is classified as folk music, which has three categories – work songs, love songs and games songs. Singing in Vietnam is widespread especially in an agricultural community where it has the tendency to be dramatized as customary rituals. Xoan singing is one of the best examples (Nguyen, pp. 497-498).
- Xoan singing tradition as a whole is classified as Folk Performance as it integrates singing, dancing, costumes and games (Nguyen, p.500).