Promote cultural values of Southern Khmer music


On August 30, Tra Vinh University coordinated with relevant branches to hold a seminar on “Conserving and promoting the cultural values of Southern Khmer folk music – Current situation and solutions”. The seminar attracted the attendances of a great number of delegates who are researchers, managers, artists and artisans to come and share on current situation and solutions of conserving and promoting the cultural values of Southern Khmer folk music.

Assoc.Prof. Dr. Pham Tiet Khanh, Rector of Tra Vinh University, spoke at the seminar.

Unique characteristic of Southern Khmer music

Assoc.Prof. Dr. Pham Tiet Khanh, Rector of Tra Vinh University said that: “Southern Khmer people have created a unique and diverse folk art and culture with many different forms. In which, the Southern Khmer folk music is closely associated with daily life, cultural activities of the community and traditional festivals such as Five-tone orchestra, Mhôry orchestra, Wedding orchestra and Sa Dam drum dance, A day singing, Cham Rieng Cha pay, nursery rhymes, lullaby…

It can be said that folk music of Southern Khmer people plays an important role in expressing and asserting the national cultural identity, as well as in ensuring its unity in the diversity of Vietnamese culture and art.

Therefore, these forms of arts have become an indispensable spiritual dish of Khmer people in the South of Viet Nam, which keeps an important meaning in building and fostering the personality, quality and souls of Khmer people. Especially in new era, it contributes effectively to political tasks, ensuring the sustainable development of society. 

Students of Tra Vinh University perform Southern Khmer folk musical instruments.

Agreed with above points of views, Mr. Son Ngoc Hoang, Vice Rector of Soc Trang Culture and Arts Intermediate School said that, “Khmer ethnic group has inherited an invaluable cultural heritage by their ancestor. It is a treasure of folk instruments which is very abundant, diverse and unique. The treasure of Southern Khmer folk musical instruments is characteristic and typical in traditional culture of Khmer people, especially in Mekong Delta region.

Throughout the history, the treasure of instrumental music has a positive meaning in life of the social community of Southern Khmer people, effectively serving all cultural and artistic activities of both Khmer, Kinh and Chinese people in the Mekong Delta.

At the same time, it contributes to enrich the treasure of Vietnamese folk music imbued with national identity, contributing a practical voice to serve community life.

Strive for conservation

Over the past time, the Party and the State have issued many proper and timely guidelines and policies to encourage and support the conservation and promotion of cultural value ​​of Southern Khmer folk music. Thereby, creating profound changes in activities of collecting, introducing, researching, training and transmitting.

However, at the present, the status of identity loss in several forms of Khmer folk music is happening due to many subjective and objective reasons including the impact of globalization which has led to changes in people’s tastes, the impact of other music genres…

In addition, the conservation and promotion of Southern Khmer folk music in recent years have mainly been carried out in a spontaneous and oral manner in association with artisans and artists. Forms of collecting, researching, introducing and training are also limited and inadequate.

Composer Thach Mu Ni, the Ethnic Committee of Tra Vinh province, concerned: “The musical forms of  A rac, Ro bam, A day, lullaby, Cham rieng Cha pay have been disappearing. Many songs are even been forgotten. This situation is caused  from many different reasons such as little enjoying need of people, not being kept in musical notation, lack of conservation and development research units, less formal trained Khmer musicians…”.

Recognize this problem, Mr. Bui Cong Ba, Department of Culture and Information of Kien Giang province, also admitted: “In Kien Giang, teaching Khmer folk music has not been paid enough attention and lack of inherited artisans leads to losing of many forms folk music. This is a problem which should be concerned”.

Southern Khmer dance

Face to the above problems, Assoc.Prof. Dr. Pham Tiet Khanh said that: “It is necessary to re-evaluate all achievements and limitations in conserving and promoting the cultural values ​​of Southern Khmer folk music in an objective and scientific manner and to explain thoroughly the causes of achievements and limitations. Thereby, clarify the effectiveness of conservation and promotion in the past years. The musical forms which are effective need to be promoted. Those are ineffective should be changed and adjusted.

Also according to Mr. Khanh, conserving the cultural values ​​of Southern Khmer music in current social context needs to be comprehensively and logically recognized between tradition and modernity, ethnicity and humanity, inheritance and promotion, on the basis of correctly identifying achievements and limitations.

The concept of inheriting the value of Southern Khmer folk music is to identify groups of solutions to conserve and promote the cultural values ​​of Khmer folk music.

According to Dr. Duong Hoang Loc, Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, in order to conserve and promote Southern Khmer traditional arts, it is necessary to have a master plan for the development of teams, groups, villages, hamlets, neighborhoods, pagodas… Focus on training musician forces to practice Southern Khmer music so that they can play many musical instruments, master the musical theory and be proficient in performing. Tra Vinh University can apply for an expansion of criteria, in conjunction with the Conservatory of Music in Ho Chi Minh City together to train to higher levels.

The experts highly appreciated that Tra Vinh university was dedicated to this scientific seminar, because conserving and promoting cultural values ​​of Southern Khmer folk music are urgent and are an indispensable path for the musical culture development of each nation in integration with other civilizations around the world.