The Kinh Bac region (consist of 2 provinces: Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and a part of provinces, cities nearby such as Hanoi, Lang Son, Hung Yen) is a folk song form known by many people. However, very few people, especially foreigners understand thoroughly this type of folk song. I was born and raised in the hometown of Ninh Binh, so I know quite clearly about this type of folk song and can share with you.
Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Song form has long existed and peaked in the middle of the 18th century. This song type was created by the ancient people in the Kinh Bac region of North Vietnam. The Kinh Bac region has many festivals, especially in the spring and fall. At the festival, the villagers gathered to play games and sing songs. Through many years, the people of Bac Giang have formed Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Song form.
Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Song form has both the male and the female participating (the male is called “liền anh”, the female is called “liền chị”). Male pair sings with the female pair or the male team sings with the female team, mainly to sing to hear each other. When singing they call each other the second brother, the third Brother or the second sister, the third sister… (Vietnamese: anh hai, anh ba, chị hai, chị ba…). The participants in the festival dress very decently. The males wear Vietnamese traditional long dresses (Vietnamese: áo dài) with a standing collar and a turban. The female wear four-part dress (Vietnamese: áo tứ thân), square towels (Vietnamese: khăn mỏ quạ) and large hats (Vietnamese: nón quay thao). The way of dressing adds grace to the participants. Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Song tune is very rich, each song has a melody, if there are hundreds of ancient songs, there are also hundreds of melodies. Especially, in the past, Singing Bac Ninh Quan Họ did not had the support of musical instruments.
Through the time, Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Song form has developed. Today, singing is along with the music, singing happens on the stage, the costumes are more colorful. Today it does not takes place only in the Kinh Bac region of North Vietnam but also in the whole country and the world. Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Songs also come to hearers and viewers through the media such as radio, television, and internet.
Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Song form is a specialty of the Kinh Bac region of North Vietnam. With its special art and historical length, Bac Ninh Quan Họ Folk Song form has recognized as the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. You can watch singing Quan Ho Bac Ninh in internet or tourist sites in the Kinh Bac region.