Video | A window into the powerful beauty of music: “War Is a Wound, Peace Is a Scar” by the Hanoi Masters – Vietnam

Josh Hall, The Guardian, Thursday 12 March 2015| For music examples and to read the full article, click here >>

To mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war, a new record has collected the work of the country’s traditional musicians. The result is an intensely affecting set of songs shot through with loss 

[…] In April, Vietnam will mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the war. In commemoration of the conflict, German music label Glitterbeat, best known for its work with Tuareg rockers Tamikrest, has compiled an extraordinary record collecting the work of Vietnamese master musicians. Hanoi Masters: War Is a Wound, Peace Is a Scar is an intensely affecting set of songs performed by musicians in their later years. Some of the compositions are direct responses to the war, while others are new adaptations of traditional Vietnamese songs. Regardless of when the songs were written, though, the recordings are all shot through with a sense of intense loss – the loss, the listener feels, not only of friends and family, but also of the innocence that a country that has endured a long history of colonial conflict can perhaps never again enjoy. […]

Vân-Ánh Võ, the musical director, zither player and chief percussionist for Hanoi Masters, and a previous Kronos Quartet collaborator, says music played a central role for her family during the war.

While her father was a guitarist, many of the songs on Hanoi Masters are performed on ancient Vietnamese instruments half-forgotten by almost everyone but these master musicians. Most fascinating among these is the K’ni, a “mouth violin” believed to have had mystical qualities of such power that to play it privately was outlawed. […]

Using traditional instruments as the foundation, I introduce a new and modern musical voice to help the young generation develop an appreciation for Vietnamese traditional arts and culture.”

Hanoi Masters offers a window into the stark and powerful beauty of traditional Vietnamese music, and into the nature of music as a salve and response to this most savage of wars. This is not simply a historical exercise; the songs recorded here feel alive and raw, as if the performers are acting as mediums for the horror that their countrymen endured, making it real and present yet again. For Brennan, notions of preservation are too simplistic. Instead, these ideas must be considered in the context of an imbalance born of America’s long cultural dominance. “Music cannot and should not be totally preserved,” he says. “It is a living and evolving thing. […]

Source: Hanoi Masters: the musicians keeping Vietnam’s lost songs alive | Music | The Guardian
Address: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/mar/12/hanoi-masters-40th-anniversary-end-vietnam-war-wound-peace-scar
Date Visited: Sun Dec 20 2015 16:58:41 GMT+0100 (CET)

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