An installment of Rounder's reclaiming of Alain Danielou's vision, this double-CD album covers the music of Vietnam. The music is broken roughly into four categories: court music, ritual/entertainment music, music of South Vietnam, and modern entertainment and theater music. There are many parallels between it and Southern Chinese music, especially in the court music section. There are also many parallels to be found with Indian music in the execution of various forms. The ritual music can be rather cacophonic at times, as ritual music is sometimes wont to be (the point isn't always for aural pleasure of humans, after all). The overwhelming nasality of female vocalists may also be something of a put-off for the average Western listener, though it can become an acquired taste. The real treat in Vietnamese music is what is presented in the second half of the fist disc and later in the second disc as well: instrumental entertainment music. The virtuosity that the musicians can display on a monochord is beyond amazing in many cases, and the extended virtuosity on the danh tranh zither is even moreso. This disc makes a wonderful opening look into the music culture of Vietnam with a comprehensive style of viewing. For pure aesthetic pleasure, one may wish to look elsewhere, but for a complete view of the musics, this is the way to go. Relatively extensive liner notes make an extra plus for any budding ethnomusicologists.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2