The Wire

The world's greatest print and online music magazine. Independent since 1982


Listen: Global Ear Hanoi tracks

June 2015

Listen to tracks by artists connected to Eliza Lomas's recent article about underground music in Vietnam

In The Wire 376 Eliza Lomas visits Hanoi where musicians are defying state censorship with provocative songs and underground education initiatives: "Vietnam is a one party state, and its cultural policy is defined by the Communist party. Censorship exists, but it is as much about protecting traditional Vietnamese values in the face of globalisation and targeting sexual or vulgar content as monitoring antigovernment rhetoric. Professional musicians who want to broadcast their work to the public must first submit it to be vetted by the authorities... The government controlled press in Vietnam negatively represents underground musicians like [these]. But when translated, the Vietnamese expression for experimental music indicates its ‘otherness’ and ‘difference’, more than it describes a common music practice. To counter this culturally stagnant environment, composer and teacher Kim Ngoc founded DomDom, Hanoi’s first education centre for experimental music. Now three years old, DomDom’s current programmes place education as its priority mission, with an emphasis on building the habit of free expression through improvisation.‘The education system in Vietnam is problematic because it doesn’t support freedom of expression,’ she explains, ‘so it’s not easy to ask students to use their instrument to express what they think.'”

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