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Artisan keeps San Chi folk songs alive

(BGO) – Meritorious artist Lam Minh Sap (born in 1955) from San Chi ethnic group in Cong hamlet, Kien Lao commune, Luc Ngan district (Bac Giang province) has for many years collected and taught San Chi folk songs (also known as the Cnang Coo) and built the singing movement in the locality. His enthusiasm, responsibility and passion have contributed to preserving and promoting the unique cultural identity of the San Chi ethnic people on the lychee land.

Kien Lao commune has seven ethnic groups, with San Chi people making up the majority. The people here still retain many traditional customs, including folk singing. Mentioning artisan Lam Minh Sap, many people in Luc Ngan know him because of his enthusiasm in movements and responsibilities from the time when he did youth union work until when he was a leader of Kien Lao commune.

Artisan, San Chi folk songs, Bac Giang province, Meritorious artist Lam Minh Sap, Cnang Coo, singing movement,  unique cultural identity

Meritorious artist Lam Minh Sap (first, left) in a San Chi folk singing activity.

Later when he retired (in 2010), he spent more time on the conservation of San Chi folk songs as Chairman of the communal Association of the Elderly and Chairman of the San Chi folk singing club.

Sap said that the San Chi folk songs are performed in various forms such as singing during the day, singing at night, singing to change the name, singing to wash face, and singing in weddings... Each form has its own lyrics, tones and meanings. 

Most of them are antiphonal songs revolving around love of couples and love for working as well as praising the country and new-style rural building movement. Sap carefully keeps a handbook containing more than 800 San Chi folk songs which he collected by himself from past and current generations of composers.

According to custom, in early spring, San Chi young people in Kien Lao often come to hamlets in the region to enjoy the spring and singing for love exchange. When two people like each other, they performed antiphonal songs to learn about each other. Through these singing events, many couples fell in love and got married.

A person who is good at singing San Chi folk songs knows not only how to make sound ligatures and hum, but also how to respond flexibly and express emotions in each situation, thus convincing listeners.

The San Chi folk singing club in Kien Lao commune,which was established in 2011, now has 70 members from seven hamlets where San Chi people live. The San Chi folk singing movement in Kien Lao is maintained regularly every year on national and local holidays.

In addition to singing exchanges between hamlets in the district, during the Culture and Sports Festival of Ethnic Groups in Luc Ngan district every year, the club organizes from one to two singing exchanges with San Chi people from neighbouring Lang Son province.

In order to connect with San Chi people from different regions, the club has repeatedly organized tours of Dak Lak and invited those from the Central Highlands province to come to sing in their hometown. These exchanges have contributed to enhancing solidarity and attachment in the community and honoring the national cultural heritage. Especially, many times the club has been invited to perform the cultural heritage at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism (Son Tay, Hanoi).

The San Chi folk songs were recognized as national intangible cultural heritage in 2012. To preserve the heritage, the provincial cultural sector has published the book "San Chi folk songs of Kien Lao commune, Luc Ngan district". The folk songs are transcribed and translated so that people can read and understand them.

However, the thing making Sap concerned is that nowadays, the number of people who know how to sing the San Chi ethnic minority's folk songs are mainly those over the age of 40, and very few young people can sing the folk songs.

In order to preserve the national cultural identity, Sap and other responsible members of the club have coordinated with schools to open folk singing classes for more than 60 San Chi ethnic students in the area. With these contributions, artisan Lam Minh Sap is honored to participate in the second National Congress of Vietnamese Ethnic Minorities scheduled for November in the capital city of Hanoi.

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Anh Khoa

Artisan, San Chi folk songs, Bac Giang province, Meritorious artist Lam Minh Sap, Cnang Coo, singing movement, unique cultural identity
 
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