Veteran artist helps keep Then singing alive

(VOVWORLD) - The 6th national festival of Then singing and Tinh gourd lute has ended in Ha Giang province last week. A performance by Nguyen Thai Hoc and other artists from the Ha Giang art troupe won 4 first prizes.

Veteran artist helps keep Then singing alive - ảnh 1

The 6th national festival of Then singing and Tinh gourd lute in Ha Giang province.

(Photo: VNA)

65-year-old Nguyen Thai Hoc was born into a musical family in Ha Giang province. At the age of 8, he started learning to play the Tinh gourd lute from his grandfather. When he grew up, Hoc had to set music aside to serve in the army for 10 years. After returning home, he worked for the provincial Party Committee. While doing his jobs, Hoc kept alive his passion for music.  He now devotes all his energy to Then singing and playing the Tinh gourd lute.

“I developed a great passion for the melodies of Then singing and the Tinh gourd lute when I learnt them from my grandfather. I still do a lot of research to learn more about Then music,” Hocexplained. 

Hoc said Then singing is preserved in the communes of Phuong Do, Phuong Tien, and Phuong Thien in Ha Giang. The word “Then” originates from “Thien”, which means sky or heaven. Then melodies are regarded as melodies of the Gods. A Then artist must sing, dance, and play a musical instrument at the same time.

A Then festival is held annually in late lunar February or early lunar March in Phuong Do commune. Wine and fruits are offered to the Gods to pray for peace and a bumper crop. The festival includes performances of Then singing and rituals worshipping to Then god, a legendary figure of the Tay ethnic people.

Veteran artist helps keep Then singing alive - ảnh 2

A Then singing club in Phuong Do commune. (Photo:

Hoc has set up a Then singing and Tinh gourd lute club in Phuong Do and classes to teach young people this genre.

“I have run this club for more than 4 years. The club meets twice a month. The Then singing class meets after the harvest so more people can attend,” he elaborated.

Besides teaching, Hoc also collects old Then old songs and has organized a number of Then singing exchanges.