H’mong young people love traditional music

NDO – "Our music" is a project on collecting and introducing traditional music of the H’mong people, performed from March to December this year by a group of young H’mong ethnic people. The collection results not only contributes to preserving the values of traditional music, but also brings material to create new cultural values in contemporary life.


Implemented by the AHD (Action for H’mong Development) team, up to now, the project has collected more than 100 songs, pieces of folk song and more than 20 songs and music of the H’mong people. On the journey to find folk music, the group went on field trips to some northern provinces of Vietnam, where the H’mong community living in, such as Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Yen Bai, Lao Cai and Son La provinces. Using H’mong language as the main language, the members of the group talked and exchanged with the local people, using the form of audio and video recording to store the folk songs and music used in daily life and during festivals and New Year festival of H’mong ethnic people.

Born and raised in Yen Bai, and graduated from the University of Culture (Hanoi), the project’s media representative Giang A Be, who has just ended nearly a week of practical experience in his homeland, shared about the process of collecting traditional folk songs. In the culture of the H’mong people, music is the sending of wishes, teachings, showing affection between people. Originating from the lyrics, the H’mong people formed a system of musical instruments, such as the flute, dan nhi (Vietnamese two-chord fiddle), and ken la (leaf-horn), to express affection, subtlety and deepness in the soul. H’mong folk songs are extremely rich, presented in a variety of topics in life, such as migration, getting married, love, brotherhood, with the oral form.

In the trend of integration, young H’mong ethnic people are increasingly affected by new music. H’mong people now do not sing folk songs much in daily life, so there are not many good folk singers. Young people are not taught so they do not understand the value of the folk music of their ethnic group. In the context of the performance activities have not been restored, the number of artisans is too small and old so preserving intact the tunes faces many difficulties. Many areas, only people over 50-year-old can sing or know folk songs. Since then, the types of traditional music arts of the H’mong people such as folk songs, flute, dan nhi, and ken la, have been increasingly lost. Therefore, only a few Mong young people are interested in learning and practicing folk music.

During the field trips to collect H’mong music, the group members have the opportunity to hear many various folk tunes by the elderly and meet the artisans, who kept H’mong musical treasure. The language barrier is a difficulty for the group in the field trips. In addition, many old people have not sung folk songs for a long time, so they forget or remember incomplete songs and melodies. Members of the group are young people, separated from their community early, so they do not fully understand the meaning of the folk songs and phrases, so the group have to ask the elderly to explain them.

As a young H’mong who is always concerned about preserving the national culture, Giang A Be said they realise that young people need to be more aware of their responsibilities and role in preserving literary values and promoting the cultural values of their own community, so that the culture will not be lost but will be promoted in today’s life. From the desire to make H’mong youths enjoy the folk songs, inspired to learn and practice traditional music arts in the current social environment, the group has actively shared the collected folk music and lyrics on social networks. They hope that folk music can reach many people and can use folk materials to compose new music pieces, putting music into movie.

From now until December, the group started to compose music for folk songs, combining new music material with folk music material of the H’mong people for the collected folk songs. The group has also calling for young H’mong people who are interested, enthusiastic and desire to promote the music values of the H’mong people to compose, remix, experiment, explore new values on the basis of folk materials. The group hopes that the combination of folk elements with the new creativity of the H’mong ethnic youth will create new folk songs with new harmonies in line with the current trend. Besides, the group is also compiling a collection of Hmong folk music to introduce the H’mong ethnic cultural values to the community.

The "Our music" project is contributing to preserving the artistic values of the H’mong people in modern society, in order to arouse awareness of the H’mong people in preserving and promoting the music value of the H’mong people. New experiments and creativity with traditional music is the way that young H’mong people lead people to look at the treasure of H’mong folk music, contributing to making that treasure come alive, rich in identity and unique.