Tuyen Quang has been recognised as one of the role models in preserving Then singing – a distinctive musical genre of Tay, Nung and Thai ethnic groups in northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam. Tuyen Quang has been not only successful in preserving Then singing but also made the art form more popular and become part of the country’s heritage.

Then singing is Melody from Heaven, making it an art of religious nature, a pray to Heaven to ask for bumper crops, peaceful and wealthy life.

Tuyen Quang province has placed importance to teaching Then singing, considering this a key and regular task to preserve the folk genre.

Such courses have been organised by Tuyen Quang province for many years. Participants at the courses are cultural workers who are members of villages’ art teams. After each course, these participants will teach Then singing to other people in their localities.

Dinh Thi Ly, Deputy Director of Cultural Centre under the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Tuyen Quang province: “Since 2012, the Culture Centre has opened such a training course every one year. In 2018, the course took place at Chiem Hoa district Culture Centre, providing learners with basic knowledge of Then singing and tunes indigenous to Tuyen Quang province.”

Each artisan invited to teach Then singing also shares the meaning of each song, helping learners have a better understanding and performance of the art form.

Artisan Ma Van Duc, Tan Ha Ward, Tuyen Quang City: “Then songs praise the relationship between people, and between people and nature. In Then songs, love is expressed in a profound and romantic way. Then songs also criticise bad habits.”

Tuyen Quang province has encouraged the establishment of Then singing clubs to gather the lovers of the art genre.

There are more than 70 clubs in the locality, raising the number of people practicing the traditional art to 1,500.

Dinh Thi Ly, Deputy Director of Cultural Centre under the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Tuyen Quang province: “Then singing clubs play a very important role in preservation of the art form. At these clubs, learners not only learn how to sing but also how to teach the art to other people.”

In 2012, Then ceremony of the Tay ethnic people in Tuyen Quang province was included in the list of national intangible cultural heritage.

Along with teaching, Tuyen Quang province also organised activities to promote Then singing, including a singing festival, an exhibition, workshops  and presentation of ancient Then songs.

Tuyen Quang is working with the Vietnam National Academy of Music to make a dossier submitted to UNESCO for recognition of Then singing as intangible cultural heritage of humanity./.