Xam singing – the unique traditional music in Vietnam


When the Xam singing stage appear on Hang Dao – Dong Xuan street walk – from the beginning of the April-2006, suddenly we see Xam still very charming.

Xam singing - the unique traditional music in Vietnam

Xam is street music. But why is it not fitted with a tail, but in combination with other Bo Ho(other name of Hoan Kiem lake).  Some others call the “Xam station”. Actually invoking different basis to call back but no other train station where they also want to run away anywhere from Bo Ho and some where come back also stopped at Bo Ho.

Why Xam singer not choose Hang Co station pier is also more crowded tramcar stations? Simply tramcar only up to a third prescription, but carry fewer guests than continuous trip so guests are always new. But trains do not go on continuously, moreover, is to ship it home or to the right destination. Therefore, electric wharf where money is more convenient than other places, so popular with rail mount gray. In the song gray, not about territory conventions, this is where the group sat himself said the other away. Between them has never contested seat fight song, because they are construed the phrase “At the same time director said.”

Legend has it that, in the thirteenth century, Prince of Tran Quoc Dinh was stabbed by brother in forest green blindness, grab valuable gem to occupy the crown. In utter delirium, Dinh dream him was singing with a flock of fairies dance jubilantly … Wake up, the prince knew the rural villagers wholeheartedly care. Through the tribulation and dream recall, Dinh was close at hand manipulated a musical instrument withlong bamboo tube with soft rod to correct volume, rope spin by tree cover and stick to turn on, knock to music. He also compiled all the poems to music, including feelings of his life, bring joy to every family, every home, hand mouth now sing everywhere, from the river, markets, communal house yard … reputation of the blind singer until imperial city, the King invited in the palace, know that Prince missing year … From there, Dinh strove to teach singing to all men, especially those blind, just for fun is life, is both a living business…

Xam singing - the unique traditional music in Vietnam
The instrument in art Xam music

So when Xam was born ? Researchers have said that Xam was born before Cheo singing, was one of many sources contributing constitutes cheo singing. Or Xam only a copy of the clumsy of Cheo singing in conditions and circumstances in a very limited class persons with disabilities, or the relationship is inevitable no gut clearance between the two forms denied, by the artist Xam and Cheo same popular song, while Tuong on type of fight song, Tru singing is poem song. The research Xam talk: Xam singing is a form appeared in Hanoi in the late nineteenth century, the twentieth century. Initially only Xam in Hanoi, then “spills” out to get the Xam tones of Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh, Hung Yen … Xam are a lot, but there are seven items featured: Xam market, Riem Hue, Ba bac nhip bang, Phon Hue, who singing with anybody and Xamtramcar stations … All Xam song about Hanoi often target destination, home to introduce to people in the village about urban and “bootlick” urban people, where their stretch one’s back to earn living daily .

The year 30 of the previous century, in a Xam neighborhood in An Duong bank. The reason is so named because the roof about 10 neighbors have all those sing Xam. During the day they go to sing, I sleep here. Neighbors exist until 1954, then each people place. The number of people sing Xam that crowded in the French colonial period and the early years of the war against France. That is the most jubilantly in 1954. After the Republic of Vietnam was born, Xam also was “current affairs.” Such movement in response to popular academic, Xam artists wrote the song “Cast out enemy ignorance”. After the Geneva agreement, the State mobilize many Xam groups, appoint people to write songs and performed in the northern coastal areas to combat movement moved to South by French colonists entice. Some three dozen artists singing Xam in Hai Duong, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh, Bac Giang, Hanoi … participated in this campaign. Thanh Tinh writers assigned a group of 23 people blinds went Bui Chu, Phat Diem to sing on purpose. The peacerestore in the North, at Bo Ho train stations still pretty much blind singing Xam, have a couple dwarfs sing very well and they make a living here until the USA led bombing of Hanoi affair another go unidentified. In the years of 1970, this art form and then go gradually fade into obscurity. Since then the people sing Xam didn’t practicse, seemingly singing Xam was lost.

Xam singing - the unique traditional music in Vietnam

When the stage singing Xam appear on Hang Dao street walk – from the beginning of the month 4-2006 Dong Xuan, suddenly we see gray and salty but still very charming. Thao Giang musicians, head of the folk music program “36 streets of Hanoi” and who is the collection, restoration of Xam that the art of singing. He said : how to trade, the shop can change but the soul of the song remains in mind when they hear Xam. In order for this program, the “Hanoi Xam group” has collected about 20 tones. Apart from what is popular poem by Nguyen Khuyen, A Nam Tran Tuan Khai, Nguyen Binh such as: Muc ha vo nhan, Anh khoa, Missed step sideways, bright moon the tea gardens, Xam tramcar…

That’s a good signal for the future of xam in the street culture of Thang Long – Hanoi. And sure will not be desert that period …


  1. Thanks for your comment.A culture form can’t full feeling in some words. Maybe you like when you listen directly and the space:D. Welcome to Hanoi :)