Pham Duc Thanh | Vietnamese Traditional Music

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Pham Duc Thanh

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World: Asian World: World Traditions Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Vietnamese Traditional Music

by Pham Duc Thanh

Experience the diverse traditional sounds of Vietnam as performed by multi-instrumentalist Pham Duc Thanh and singer Lieu Nguyet Lan. This digitally recorded disc contains a 24 page booklet.
Genre: World: Asian
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Black Horse / Ly Ngua o
4:57 album only
2. Eight Measures On the Drum / Tam Nhip Trong Cheo
2:00 album only
3. Night Song & Waiting For A Loved One / Ho Dong Thap & Ly Chieu C
4:29 album only
4. Season of the Golden Rice / Mua Lua Chin
5:04 album only
5. Rowing the Boat / Hat Cheo Thuyen
4:52 album only
6. Autumn Moon Serenade / Trang Thu Da Khuc
3:25 album only
7. Festive Drums / Trong Quan
3:58 album only
8. Song of Gratitude / Ngu Diem Ta
3:47 album only
9. The Instigating Comedian / He Moi
3:28 album only
10. Planting the Rice / Di Cay
2:41 album only
11. Imperial Court Music / Tong Quan & Dang Dan Cung
2:27 album only
12. Possession Chant / Hat Chau Van
10:24 album only


Album Notes
Internationally acclaimed dan bau player, Pham Duc Thanh was born in Ninh Binh, northern Vietnam, in 1956. Displaying a remarkable musical aptitude as a child, Pham was already playing the dan bau (monochord) as well as the dan tranh (16-string zither) and dan nhi (two-string fiddle) by the age of six. In 1974, Pham moved to Hanoi, where he studied at a popular traditional theatre school and joined the leading Hat Cheo theatre group as a dan bau player. After attending Saigon's Research Center for Music, he went on to become one of country's top dan bau players of traditional and contemporary music.

In August 1990, Pham and his wife, singer Lieu Nguyet Lan, left Vietnam and moved to Germany for several years before emigrating to Canada in 1996. Today, the Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist is known as one of the world's leading exponents of traditional Vietnamese music. Besides his solo work, Pham has also appeared on over 20 internationally released CDs including the movie soundtrack for Tony Bui's Three Seasons, winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.



to write a review


Deep in the classical tradition of Vietnamese string-dominated ensembles is a theory on precisely how to strike or pluck the strings of the dan bau to obtain the sliding effects and pitches that make up traditional music. Pham Duc Thanh, however, is an innovator who has modified the dan bau, a monochord instrument. By fitting the dan bau with thicker strings, he has produced a bass instrument with a truly astonishing sound that is unfortunately heard on only one cut on this album, "Hat Cheo Thuyen", a boat-rowing song. Pham has also modified the dan bau by placing pieces of bamboo under the string and striking it with a bamboo stick so as to make the sound more percussive. That's heard on the song "Trong Quan", a festive song from North Vietnam.

Pham's dan bau playing is the heart of the album. On the solo instrumental "Trang Thu Da Khuc", dedicated to the autumn moon, Pham conveys a deep melancholy reminisent of the saddest of blues. Vocalist Lieu Nguyet Lan accompanies Pham. Her considerable abilities are highlighted on the CD's longest cut "Hat Chau Van", a medley of chants that come from the Buddhist tradition. The 12 cuts include works from different sections of the country. There is even one piece, "Tam Nhip Trong Cheo" that explores the rich percussion ensemble tradition.

In sum, this is an important addition to the small number of traditional music albums being produced by the expatriate Vietnamese community in Canada and the United States. -Aaron Howard