Songs for the Spirits
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Songs for the Spirits : Music and Mediums in Modern Vietnam

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Description

Songs for the Spirits examines the Vietnamese practice of communing with spirits through music and performance. During rituals dedicated to a pantheon of indigenous spirits, musicians perform an elaborate sequence of songs--a "songscape"--for possessed mediums who carry out ritual actions, distribute blessed gifts to disciples, and dance to the music's infectious rhythms. Condemned by French authorities in the colonial period and prohibited by the Vietnamese Communist Party in the late 1950s, mediumship practices have undergone a strong resurgence since the early 1990s, and they are now being drawn upon to promote national identity and cultural heritage through folklorized performances of rituals on the national and international stage. By tracing the historical trajectory of traditional music and religion since the early twentieth century, this groundbreaking study offers an intriguing account of the political transformation and modernization of cultural practices over a period of dramatic and often turbulent transition. An accompanying DVD contains numerous video and music extracts that illustrate the fascinating ways in which music evokes the embodied presence of spirits and their gender and ethnic identities.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 156 x 230 x 28mm | 621.42g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 025203399X
  • 9780252033995
  • 1,007,685

About Barley Norton

Barley Norton is a senior lecturer in ethnomusicology in the music department at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research on Vietnamese music and culture was the subject the documentary film A Westerner Loves Our Music (Nguoi Tay Me Nhac Ta). He is also a performer of the Vietnamese dan nguyet and dan day lutes.show more

Review quote

"Essential reading for scholars of Vietnamese religion, women's religion and culture, and spirit possession."--Religious Studies Review "An exciting document of a locally diverse and unique ritual practice of the Viet people and their music. . . . A Vital work."--Asian Ethnology "There is no better study that looks at Vietnamese mediumship music in a thorough, multidisciplinary manner."--Music & Letters "The book is comprehensive in its analysis of cultural practices such as len dong, tracing the history of rituals, music and religion in Vietnam back to the early 20th century. . . . The inclusion of a DVD with video clips of mediums performing the spirit ceremonies and audio clips of the music played at the ceremonies makes turns an interesting book into a fascinating multimedia experience." --Songlinesshow more

Rating details

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