Hue’s royal court music is called “Nha Nhac Cung Dinh” (Royal court’s refined music) in Vietnamese. It’s an old form of art performance that used to official music of royal court for centuries. For a long history of existence, Hue’s royal court music has become an essential part of Hue Imperial City as well as Vietnamese culture in general.
History of Hue’s royal court music
Hue’s royal court music originated in the reign of Ly Dynasty (1010 -1225) and rapidly developed under Le Dynasty (1427 -1778). At that time, that form of music had fully developed and become official music of the royal court. However, at the end of Le Dynasty, royal court music fell into recession. Till Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945), the Kings brought that kind of music back to its official position. Royal court music had been in golden age and named after the ancient capital city of Nguyen Dynasty: Hue’s royal court music. By 20th century, as the collapse of Nguyen Dynasty and Vietnam War, Hue’s royal court music gradually lost its popularity and was even seriously threatened to the survival.
Feature of Hue’s royal court music
Hue’s royal court music involves two subtypes: “Dai Nhac” and “Tieu Nhac”. “Dai Nhac” played an important role in religious liturgies (like Nam Giao Offering Ritual, Xa Tac Offering Ritual), coronations, funerals, etc. That subtype is featured with a large-scale orchestra of about 40 kinds of drums, wind and string instruments. “Tieu Nhac” has smaller scale and is usually performed in anniversaries, official receptions, royal parties, etc. Musicians in a band of Hue’s royal court music can be males or females. While performing, they have to wear traditional costumes (“ao dai” and “khan xep”) and pay a high concentration on their performance.
Hue’s royal court music is a unique form of art performance that receives high appreciation as its artistic and historical values. In November 2003, Hue’s royal court music was officially proclaimed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Another popular art in Vietnam: Cheo singing in Vietnam