Quan Ho Folk Song in Yen Duc Village

quan ho singing in Yen Duc VillageQuan Ho folk song formed quite long ago by Viet people (Kinh people) in 49 Quan Ho villages and some other neighboring villages belong to Bac Giang and Bac Ninh province now created.

Quan Ho singing is a Vietnamese folk music style characterized both by its antiphonal nature, with alternating groups of female and male singers issuing musical challenges and responses, and by the fact that most of the songs in the repertoire deal with topics of love and sentimentality experienced by young adults.

The Quan Ho singing style originated in what is now Bac Ninh Province and was first recorded in the 13th century, and has traditionally been associated with the spring festivals that follow the celebration of Tet (the Vietnamese New Year). Historically, the singing began on the evening before the festival, but today it is much more common for the singing to occur on the main day of the festival.

According to the tradition, only young people used to sing Quan Ho songs, as the major body of song texts centers on the subject of love and sentimental desire among young adults. Nowadays, many elderly singers participate in the singing as well in response to the Quan Ho movement initiated by the provincial government. Originally, Quan Ho singing were exchange songs between two mandarins’ families. Gradually, it spread out and became popular among the northern people. Groups were formed just for singing, and many marriages were formed at these get-together. After centuries, it became the most significant Vietnamese folk-song type.

In general, an initial “challenge phrase” from the known body of songs is sung by a pair of female singers, following which a pair of male singers will respond by selecting and singing a “matching phrase”, which must repeat the melody of the challenge phrase. Once they are finished, the order is reversed, and the men will issue their own challenge phrase with a different melody. While in the past the singing was unaccompanied, it is common today for the singers to be accompanied by instruments, whether traditional Vietnamese instruments or modern ones such as electric keyboards.

There are a huge number of Quan Ho singing melodies, with thousands of different songs having been recorded and written down in score form.