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Exhibition lends eyes to blind busker singing tradition

By Long Nguyen   May 11, 2021 | 04:19 am PT
A week-long “Mat Xam” exhibition in Hanoi will give enhanced visibility to the traditional Vietnamese art of xam (blind busker singing) through photos, art installations and music performances.

With support from the British Council in Vietnam, "Mat Xam" (The Eyes of Xam) will use many visual effects and installations to honor this traditional Vietnamese music form, which is not as visually rich as many of its peers.

"Mat Xam" is not only about enjoying xam through the eyes, it is also about seeing the music from various angles and perspectives, organizers said.

An eye made of castanets and drums at the exhibition. Photo courtesy of organizers.

An eye made of castanets and drums at the exhibition. Photo courtesy of organizers.

The exhibition has photos capturing faces of xam singers and documentaries about how young Vietnamese have perceived and developed the music.

Online talk shows will be held on May 16, 19 and 22 to connect local xam singers with audiences.

Xam singing, a centuries-old Vietnamese art form, has long been regarded as an important part of the nation’s cultural heritage.

The music is mainly seen in the northern countryside provinces.

A typical xam performance will feature drums, castanets, a dan nhi (bowed instrument with two strings) and dan bau (monochord instrument). The players of all these instruments sing together when they perform.

The exhibition will be held May 16-22 at the VICAS Art Studio, 32 Hao Nam Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi.

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