Nha nhac, which means “elegant music” , is a genre of royal music performed at the Vietnamese court from 15th to 20th century . It was music for the kings and the nobles, not everyone could have the chance to enjoy it, not everyone could appreciate its value. So make yourself kings and queens because this experience will bring you back to the ancient royal palace of Vietnam.
Nha nhac appeared from the Ly dynasty (15th century), it reached the peak at Hue Imperial Citadel under Nguyen Dynasty (mid 20th century), that’s why people usually call it “Hue Court music” , but the collapse of this dynasty also leaded to the disbandment of Nha nhac . Contrary to the popular folk music, Nha nhac was formally performed only at important events such as national anniversaries, coronations, funerals, festivals, or receptions.
Under each dynasty, Nha nhac had different rules, form and scale, but only until the last dynasty of Vietnam did Nha nhac truly reach the pinnacle of its development. However, when colonial war broke out in Vietnam (20th century), the last king of Nguyen dynasty resigned, feudal system collapsed and so did the royal music, since the war has destroyed many traditional instruments and songs, Nha nhac almost disappeared from Vietnam’s history. Fortunately, when the war was over, many Vietnamese people decided to take on the responsibility of bringing it back to life.
Nha Nhac performers in Tu Duc Tomb
A Nha nhac performance was generally very monumental in scale. Under Nguyen Dynasty, it featured more than one hundred skillful performers including composers, musicians, singers, dancers.They dressed sumptuous costume. The orchestra contained numerous traditional musical instruments including drum section, percussion type, woodwind type, string type. . All performers were carefully selected throughout the country. For such a large orchestra to perform perfectly, the conductor must be extremely skillful and they all had to maintain a high level of concentration to follow each step of the ritual.
Nha nhac plays an important role in Vietnam’s culture. It was not only a form of entertainment of the nobility, but also represents a powerful, prosperous and wealthy monarchy. Over hundreds years of history, Nha nhac has witnessed Vietnam historical ups and downs: the prosperity and decline of the dynasties, wars and peace, now Nha nhac became a priceless gift from the past.
Hue – the place to witness the collapse of the last dynasty of Vietnam, just less than a century ago, this place was still a luxurious and bustle capital city, so today the people in Hue still retains some character of the refined and artistic descendants of royal lineage. In 2016, the last musician to perform in Hue Imperial Citadel passed away at the age of 109, in the last years of his life, he was still seen fascinated by the traditional instruments and music. His deep love of art was alive despite his death and it will be inherited for generations.
With outstanding value,in 2003 , Nha nhac was originally proclaimed as the first Vietnamese’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Nowadays, tourists can easily enjoy Nha nhac performance in Hue. The best way is sitting on the dragon , listen to the traditional music performed by an orchestra, and you can also get a glimpse of the beautiful and magnificent city, just let the boat float on the Perfume River, this will be an amazing experience in Hue. So what are you waiting for, Kings and Queens? Come to this gorgeous city and book a ticket to the old days of Vietnam right now.
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