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tuannyriver

website & blog of Tuan Hoang, Pepperdine University

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South Vietnam

Song of war #8: Đưa Em Về Quê Hương (Take You To the Country)

I set out a few basic criteria in the making of this compilation.  One is no more than two songs from the same composer.  One is to seek a wide variety on style and content.  A third is to limit selections to the period of the Second Indochina War.  There were many songs written during or shortly after the French War, and I hope to address the connection between the two periods at some point.  But ten isn’t a large number by any means, and leaving out music from the First Indochina War hopefully helps to tighten the coherence of the list.

Another criterion is that the selections come from musicians associated in a significant way to the Republican Saigon, thus leaving out music from North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front (NLF).  Communist music is worthy of studies for its propaganda value, yes, but possibly more.  But it is not included on this list because it diverges too far from music of the Republican South.

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Source: luanhoan.net

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Song of war #9: Tám Nẻo Đường Thành (Eight City Roads)

A good case can be made for this song to be ranked higher than the ninth spot, maybe even in the top five.  But I’m going to keep it in this spot because it provides a sort of continuity from the #10 song, Quê Hương Chiến Tranh or Country At War.

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The title means eight urban roads or ways.  While nẻo đường is used enough in writing and speaking, it isn’t clear why Hoài Linh, author of the song, chose eight instead of four, six, or nine – all of which have the same accent tone as eight in Vietnamese, which is dấu sắc.  In an online analysis last year, Cao Đức Tuấn makes the argument that the phrase tám nẻo đường thành is particular to the city of Saigon.  He suggests an association to the old octagonal Citadel of Saigon – Thành Bát Quái – constructed in the late eighteenth century with crucial engineering assistance from French allies to the first Nguyễn emperor Gia Long.  The evidence on this particular point is thin. But the larger point that the title refers to Saigon is plausible, if for other pieces of evidence in the lyrics.

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Twenty Vietnamese songs on war and refugees

Bài lời Việt theo sau bài tiếng Anh. Hai bài hao hao nội dung nhưng không giống hẳn. The Vietnamese portion follows the English. I cater each language to different readers and they aren’t entirely the same.

April 30 was of course the climax of the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of mass Vietnamese migration to the U.S.  But there’s still a lot of the anniversary year left.

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April 30, 2015 in Little Saigon, Orange County

Tomorrow is the first day of classes at my institution, and I will continue to honor this anniversary by posting about Vietnamese music related to war and refugees throughout the fall semester and into the spring semester.

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Starting point for a literary history of Vietnamese in the U.S.

What did the first waves of Vietnamese refugees in America think about themselves? What was their mindset regarding their place in the world?  Is it possible to write a coherent literary history of their experience?

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Cover of the book under discussion, next to a collection by Thái Tú Hạp published three years later ~ Source: nguoi-viet.com

The search for answers can take different directions and have different starting points.  In my opinion, it isn’t a bad idea to begin with a collection of poetry, essays, memoirs, and fiction entitled Tuyển Tập Thơ Văn 90 Tác Giả Việt Nam Hải Ngoại 1975-1981: Selected Poetry and Prose from Ninety Vietnamese Writers Abroad, 1975-1981 (Missouri City, TX: Văn Hữu, 1982). KEEP READING!

Bài giới thiệu sách về đệ nhị VNCH

BÀI GIỚI THIỆU: HỒI TƯỞNG CỦA NHỮNG NGƯỜI ĐÓNG GÓP XÂY DỰNG NỀN ĐỆ NHỊ CỘNG HÒA CỦA MIỀN NAM VIỆT NAM (1967-1975)

We have the first guest blog post, of a sort.  Tuong Vu asks to post his Vietnamese translation of the introduction to the recent volume Voices from the Second Republic of South Vietnam (1967-1975), and I am most happy to oblige.

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Family and nation in a Khánh Ly song

To reiterate a point from the last post, nationalism appears here and there in South Vietnamese music, not in one place.  Strong arguments will necessarily come from a broad survey of songs, not a few.  For now, however, I will zoom in on just one song in the hope of illustrating certain aspects of nationalism in the Republican South.

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The band Vì Dân (For the People) in 1959, with Hoài Linh holding the accordion (source: khanhly.net)

What is Ba Lần Mẹ Khóc, whose title I have Englished as Thrice Mother Wept, opting for old-style “thrice” over “three times” in order to cut down on syllables? Like Tuổi Trẻ Chúng Tôi, it was recorded only once in South Vietnam. KEEP READING!

My first time at the AAS

This is the first of two posts on music in South Vietnam. Here is the second post.

The first time at the Association of Asian Studies (AAS), I presented a paper on ethnic nationalism in South Vietnamese music.  Thanks to a nice line-up that I put together (including the Australian anthropologist Philip Taylor as chair and discussant) and auspicious scheduling (right after lunch time on Friday and without another panel on Vietnam at the same time), a lot of people in the field showed up to this panel.  It seemed, indeed, as if Keith Taylor was the only big name from the U.S. that was missing.  (I did see him a few days later at Cornell.)  The sizable room was nearly packed:  a most desirable outcome for a conference panel anywhere.

Alas, it was a successful outing in most respects but for me. KEEP READING!

Thoughts on the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War

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Posted on FB on April 26, 2015

The Cornell Vietnam Speakers Series asked last week, “What is on your mind about the Vietnam War as we approach the 40th anniversary of its conclusion?” Here are the things that I jotted down between grading and seeing students as the semester wound down.

Continue reading “Thoughts on the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War”

Conference report: Vietnamese in America since 1975

Posted on VSG on April 14, 2015

11150887_769683229793570_161372729725463775_nConference report: “Vietnamese in America Since 1975: History, Identity, and Community,” Occidental College, April 11, 2015

On this day, a dozen of scholars in history, religion, and the social sciences gathered at Occidental College for meals and conversations.  KEEP READING!

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