People’s Artist Xuan Hoach and his devotion to folk music

(VOVWORLD) - Xuan Hoach is known as a veteran artist of Vietnamese folk music. Hoach is not only able to play traditional music, he also teaches music and crafts traditional musical instruments.
People’s Artist Xuan Hoach and his devotion to folk music - ảnh 1People’s Artist Xuan Hoach (Photo: Ngoc Anh/ VOV5)

People’s Artist Xuan Hoach was born in Dong Hung district, Thai Binh province. He taught himself music at a young age and was admitted to the Vietnam National Academy of Music. After graduating, Hoach worked for the Central Troupe of Dance and Music – now the Dance and Music Theatre of Vietnam: “I was born in the cradle of Cheo (traditional opera), so I passed the exam easily with a performance of Cheo. After graduating in 1971, I worked for the Dance and Music Theatre of Vietnam and retired in 2012. My success in art can be attributed to a good art environment and my tireless effort to learn and train myself”.

Artist Xuan Hoach can play 6 different traditional musical instruments, including the moon-shaped two- string guitar, the two-chord fiddle, the monochord, and percussion instruments. He is also skilled in ceremonial singing, Xam songs, and Chau Van ritual singing. Hoach has a great passion for and is able to construct traditional musical instruments. He uses silk to make the strings, so his musical instruments produce clear echoing sounds. Dragonfly patterns are used to decorate his instruments to make them look typical of Vietnam. Mr. Hoach said: “I decided to remake the ancient monochord after seeing a photo from the Music Research Institute. I am surprised with its beautiful sound although the rod is much higher than that of a modern monochord”.

Although past retirement age, Xuan Hoach still trains young artists in Xam singing and playing traditional musical instruments. At the weekend, Hoach also joins other artists of the Vietnam Music Development Center to perform Xam, Ca Tru ceremonial singing, and Chau Van in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Thao Giang is Director of the Vietnam Music Development Center: “Xuan Hoach not only sings and plays traditional musical instruments, he is able to create new instruments. It’s very hard to use silk strings for the musical instruments, but Hoach can do it. He’s a talented artist”.

Xuan Hoach spends much of his time collecting documents and working with other veteran artists to revive Xam singing, a popular form of folk music originally performed by blind artists: “I often invited late Xam artist Ha Thi Cau to perform at the Ha Noi Opera House. We worked closely with her to preserve Xam singing”.

A model of a traditional house typical of the North of Vietnam was constructed by Xuan Hoach in a small lane off Lang street, Hanoi. This is where he preserves traditional musical instruments and teaches Vietnamese folk music.

Xuan Hoach is one of the few Vietnamese ever to be recognized as a world artisan by the World Masters Committee.