Various Artists

Vietnam: Traditions of the South

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A nice set of recordings under the general supervision of uber-ethnomusicologist Alain Danielou, this album consists of traditional Southern Vietnamese music, divided into two sections: ritual and religious, and entertainment and theatre music. While some of the ritual music can be grating at best, some of the religious and entertainment musics can also be worthwhile. There's a good deal of use made of the zithers of the country, which give quite probably the most distinctive indicator that it's Vietnamese music being played. There are also a couple of fiddles, drums, and other small percussions. Finally, in the entertainment sector, there is some female vocal work, which is a highly prized form in the traditions. The vocal work is rather similar to Southern Chinese styles in many respects, in the intentionally nasal tone and the quavering melodic lines. Only trained professionals should be subjecting their ears to some of this. Still, the music is important as a piece of the tradition and heritage, which is one of the main reasons it was recorded in the first place. Pick it up for a nice overview of Southern Vietnamese music, but be careful.

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