BackArts & Culture » [Video] A Quan Họ Classic Meets a String Quintet in a Psychedelic Video

[Video] A Quan Họ Classic Meets a String Quintet in a Psychedelic Video

'Muoi Nho' is a famous song written in the Vietnamese quan họ folk performance art.

Quan họ, believed to have originated in Bac Ninh Province, is characterized by its antiphonal structure as responses and challenges are sung between two groups of male and female singers, forming the premise of a song. Quan họ singing also employs an abundance of melismas, one syllable or word that spans several notes, and continuous vibratos, both of which contribute to its distinct musical quality.

Ngo Hong Quang, a 36-year-old musician trained in both traditional Vietnamese musical instruments and contemporary music, makes use of quan họ's antiphonal nature to turn the conventional relationship in these songs from male-female to west-east in his latest album Nam Nhi, in which 'Muoi Nho' serves as the eighth track.

'Muoi Nho,' which expresses the sentimental longing of two parties in a romantic relationship, is usually sung by a group of male singers and female singers either without background music or with background music played by various traditional instruments. In Quang's rendition, the song features his vocal in quan họ style sung to the background music played by a string quintet, a common western extension of the string quintet in classical chamber music.

Recently, the team behind Fustic., a creative design studio based in Hanoi, gives Quang's rendition a lyrics video. Using the image of nón quai thao — a flat palm hat often used in quan họ performances — as the main visual object, the video feature psychedelic movements of fauvistic colors, creating an interesting feast for the eyes.

Enjoy Ngo Hong Quang's mix of 'Muoi Nho' below:

[Video via Vimeo user Fustic.]

Related Articles

Meet the Man Who’s Rewriting the Rules of Traditional Vietnamese Calligraphy

[Video] Teh Dar Brings Central Highlands' Rhythm and Sound to Saigon

Saigoneer Podcast: Vietnamese Folk Tales and Artist Quynh Lam