Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Flirt songs

It’s kind of song exchange, the singing between young boys and girls every spring or after bumper crops, in leisure time or in moonlit nights. Flirt songs differ from region to region in ways to sing or regulations to sing. Flirt songs in Tam Nông (now Tam Thanh district, Phú Thọ province) is well-identified. It’s said to be home to this folk song.
Phú Thọ flirt-song is closely related to the legendary story of rebuilding Nam Cường communal house dedicated to princess Xuân Nương.

Story has it that, once the village communal house was destroyed by fire, Nam Cường young boys went to fetch good wood from forests to rebuild it. At break time, they were invited to have good food and wine by the Mường minority girls, then they all together set to make raft of logs for home journey. They ran aground at Thục Luyện commune, they couldn’t in spite of their best efforts. The Mường minority girls asked them to sing loud when pushing the rafts forwards. They did as they were told and the rafts moved easily. The fall of God was named then the “fall of couples” and their song was called hát ghẹo or flirt song. It became well-known and named Nam Cường flirt song.
Flirt song in Phú Thọ;               Photo: Quang Hà

The festive singing is annually organized in lunar September. Team-girls are picked from those who are not so busy and who do not have funeral affairs. They have to learn by heart the songs and have good sweet voice. Their partners are young boys of the same age. Traditionally, on festive days, both the boys and girls have to obey their own rules in costumes, interpersonal skills or ways to sing. Elder people are called “ông trùm”, “bà trùm” or “Mr and Mrs the superiors”, younger ones called by quan anh, quan chị or the senior singers. The senior men put on black long robes ready-to-wear turbans while senior women have 5-panel long robes, silk trousers, crimson breast cloths, green belts, key-chains and black scarves.

The venue might be someone’s home. It must be clean, large with fresh air, especially, the family must not have troubles (funerals or unlucky affairs). Mr. the superiors sit on wooden beds while the Mrs. sit on mattresses, distance away.

Flirt song is normally sung in pairs. They sing while looking in the partners’ eyes to show their feelings.

The singing is dedicated on 4 categories. The starter is đãi trầu or the female singers sing and invite their partners with betel and areca which is tied to the handkerchief or put on trays, then come “sổng songs” or the time to sing in more friendly manners. The 3rd category is “to change the voice” or “sang giọng”, it means they sing in 36 different voice-levels. When they finish 36 song-levels, it comes the sunrise, they are entertained with breakfasts by villagers then go home. They are seen off by their girl-partners in their good-bye songs, most affectionately that leave unforgettable impression on both sides.

                                                                      THANH TÂM
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