This is one of the posts that I’ve been looking forward to for ages. One of the most exciting things about being in Vietnam is getting to get down with the culture. From brilliant, modern takes on Vietnamese tradition to Vietnamese takes on Western traditions, bamboo is a central part in all of this.
A while back we went to a gig here in Hanoi and saw this absolutely fantastic band called Limebocx. To start with, their music is just wicked. It’s this incredible mix of traditional Vietnamese sounds and electronic beatboxing. There are even crazy synth sounds and beautiful ethereal singing on top. This mix between the old and the new is something you don’t see much in the music scene here and it was pretty inspiring. They use a Vietnamese style zither, a đàn tranh, and you guessed it, parts of it are made from bamboo.
It’s not exactly surprising that bamboo is one of the main materials used for making instruments in Vietnam given how much there is knocking about. Still, the fact that the majority of the traditional instruments that you see and hear are made, at least in some bits, from bamboo is pretty cool. The đàn tranh is one of my favourites. There’s also something haunting about the weird beauty of the đàn bầu, another zither-style instrument. This one can even get to notes that we don’t actually have in the tunes and music we’re used to. If you’ve never heard one, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. We’ve even included some clips here for your listening pleasure.
Sức Sống Mới
Another unique musical group based here in Vietnam is the Sức Sống Mới Bamboo Ensemble. They’re a classical ensemble that plays all their tunes using instruments made entirely from bamboo. I love that these guys’ ability puts paid to the idea that traditional instruments aren’t able to play complex ‘Western’ music. It’s fantastic that they keep at it and their songs put a really interesting spin on the ideas they’re playing.
What we’re saying is that bamboo can do basically anything. From playing classical music through to getting that delicious drink down ya.