A Ritual in Hoi An

  • A Ritual in Hoi An 00:00

When I was in Hoi An, I was confused on what to record. This was due to fact that this ancient city has become very crowded with tourists. Tourism has become something inevitable in some historic places in Southeast Asia. Hence I only spent my tome by walking around the town taking pictures and enjoying the beauty of the canals and architectures.

After a few hours not getting anything to record, I decided to head over to the village. It is not very far from the crowded area, but it is less noisy and has a calm atmosphere.

As I was riding my bicycle through the alleys of the village, I heard a traditional music being sung. I was convinced that it was sung directly, not through a recording. I followed the sound until I stumble upon people in the middle of doing a ritual. Unfortunately, due to the lack of people who spoke English, I was not able to ask about the details of the ritual. If anyone has any information regarding of the ritual, please feel free to share.

This ritual was held in a tent. In front of it was an altar set for the offering for the gods. The offerings consisted of rice, fish, vegetables, fruits, tea, and even some canned beverages. The ritual was accompanied by some vocals, traditional instruments such as gong, dan nhi, ken bau, and a drum which I do not know the name of.

At first, I was in doubt to set my recording set in front of the tent. However, the locals who noticed my interest asked me to join the ritual. Although we only communicated through gestures, the locals were very kind. I then spent the whole day recording the ritual.

If we listen carefully, it is obvious that the people who were playing the instrument were amateurs. The gong often miss it’s tempo, and not in sync with the drum. However, the melody was quite fluent and beautiful. The vocal was very loud and a bit broken, it also sounded not in sync with the drum. The accompaniments were transmitted through a cheap horn speaker that was hung on a pole of a local’s house. It sounded very shrill and penetrates the ear drum.  However, these sounds were what made it unique and interesting.

After a few procession of this ritual, the instruments, and other ritual objects, were taken out of the tent and in to the alleys. I followed them to discover that they were still doing the ritual until they met the sea. It was touching to see how the people of Hoi An were very connected to nature, especially sea, through this ritual. In addition, Hoi An was an ancient harbour that contains many stories throughout history. Sound is something that is inseparable with this narration.

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