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NGHE VẺ NGHE VE (Listening to the singing cicada)

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An endangered music festival
Please note that our event schedule is subject to Covid-19 restrictions and precautionary measures. Stay tuned to be updated with the latest news and thank you for your understanding!

Nghe vẻ nghe ve/ Listening to the singing cicada
Nghe vè âm nhạc/ Telling the stories of sounds
Âm thanh tản mạn / Scattered, lost and remembered
Vảng vất dân gian/ A little bit here
Mỗi thứ một nơi/ A little bit there
Vợi đi không ít / fragments waiting to be collected 

Our eyesight is compromised in conditions of low light or darkness, thus we often rely on our ears to navigate in the dark. The attempt to trace and understand local sounds against the backdrop of a fast-paced, increasingly urbanised contemporary society echoes the experience of walking in the dark. How can we find the way when the eyes cannot see? In our current societies we are deeply saturated with image consumption, listening is both a luxury and a challenge, especially when it comes to sounds that are scattered and nurtured in small and somehow overlooked communities.

Inspired by Vietnamese performative folk traditions (many of which are sadly slowly  disappearing), The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre has initiated ‘Nghe Vẻ Nghe Ve’  as an effort to ‘study’ local forms of music, to learn how to listen and to share this experience with our audiences. The title of this project borrows from the opening line of ‘vè’ – a form of poetic rhyme, typical in Northern Vietnam, used to make humorous observations on a certain topic to voice social reflections and criticism – which is a call for people to gather and listen to the story the reciter is about to tell. 

By ’local music’, we refer to the musical components of folkloric performing arts which have already established their own histories and genres in the cultural traditions of Vietnam (such as tuồng, chèo, cải lương, quan họ). But it may also include rhythmic forms passed on orally from one generation to another such as vè (rhymes), xẩm (folk singing previously performed by the blind), đồng dao (childlore), ca dao (folk poems); which are less structured, more freely versed and easy to remember, often anonymously invented. 

These events are delivered by music artisans who have been resilient in their dedication to revive endangered musical forms that are threatened by changing socio-political landscapes. The program will also include contemporary artists who are looking for ways to equally give tribute to the legacy of these cultural traditions. Through these respected practitioners, we seek to approach ‘local sounds’ with openness and fresh perspective.