Van Tien Khoi in Khuoi Tac Village, Bang Long Commune, Cho Don District, in the northern mountainous province of Bac Can, is famous for his special love to “Then” singing (the traditional art form of the Tay, Nung and Thai groups).
Van Tien Khoi making a Tinh gourd lute
With his great passion and love for folk songs of his homeland, Khoi has made significant contributions to preserving and promoting traditional cultural values of Tay ethnic minority group.
When he was very young, Khoi has learned how to playing Tinh gourd lute and practiced Then songs with the local elderlies. Thanks to his hard work and talent, he soon grasped the techniques of Tinh gourd lute playing and Then singing. Khoi actively performed and compiled the contents for art programmes and has become an enthusiastic collaborator in the locality. He also met artisans and famous artists to gain more experiences. Khoi has won many prizes at various regional and national festivals such as B prize at the sixth national Then Singing and Tinh Gourd Lute Festival for his performance of ancient Then song “Ha tu the” (Five doors of the world); and A prize at the tenth Cultural, Sports and Tourism Festival of ethnic minority groups in the northeast region for the song “Giai ve” (Relieve a person of their unlucky streak).
With a great passion on Tinh gourd lute’s melodies and Then songs, Khoi has not only sung and played lute but also composed dozens of Then songs praising the Party, Uncle Ho, patriotism and love. He said: “Among the works I have composed, the song I like most that has been popular is ‘Chom hai slip ha’ (Watching the full moon). I composed it in 2012. With this song, the group from Bac Kan mass art troupe won the second prize at the fourth national Then Singing and Tinh Gourd Lute Festival in Lang Son Province in 2012”.
Khoi has always worried about inspiring young people to help the traditional art form not fade. Over recent years, he has taught the locals, especially youths in Bac Kan Province and other localities, to sing Then songs and play the Tinh gourd lute. He is also one of the few people who can make a Tinh gourd lute with traditional manual methods. The lutes made by him have been increasingly improving in terms of form, technical structure, aesthetics and sound. So far, he has sold over 300 Tinh gourd lutes.
Head of the Cho Don district’s cultural and information department, Ha Thi Khanh, said that Van Tien Khoi’s collection, compilation, performance and teaching of techniques in Then singing and playing Tinh gourd lute as well as the production and supply of his lutes, have positively contributed to preserving and promoting traditional cultural values. In order to spread the positive examples like Khoi, the district’s authorities have called for greater attraction to the preservation and promotion of Then singing form. In addition, programmes on teaching folk songs have been implemented in schools. The introduction of Then singing in particular has been developed in association with tourism development in the locality.