Nha Nhac Vietnamese Court Music in Hue

In its ordinary meaning, Court Music is understood as music genres, including music for dance and opera, used in worshiping ceremonies, national court – organized festivities, and occasions of entertainment for Kings and Royal families. But the term Nha Nhac (imported from China) was used by Vietnamese feudal dynasties from the Ho Dynasty with different meanings, for example sometimes indicating general court music, sometimes court ritual music in particular, sometimes indicating music department, even a concrete orchestra.

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The initial foundation of Nha Nhac – the Vietnamese Court Music began conceiving since the 13th century but it only reached the peak at the Hue Court under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). The Court Music was officially formed along with the rise of Nguyen Dynasty in the early 19th century. In about 1947, 1948, Madame Tu Cung (mother of King Bao Dai, wife of King Khai Dinh) gathered once again some court music artists, helping to maintain some genres of Hue Court Music and dance. In the 1980s, it began to attract attention of the Ministry of Culture and local authorities. In the 1990s, Hue Court Music enjoyed renaissance. Thereafter Hue Court Music has been introduced much abroad.

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The different genres of the Hue Court Music include worshiping ritual music, court ritual music, court dances, chamber music and opera (royal classical opera – tuong).

In the former times, Hue Court Music consisted of various genres: Giao Nhac used in the sacrifice ceremony to the Heaven and the Earth. Mieu Nhac used in worshipping ceremonies at the temples of meritorious ancestors of the Nguyen clan, Confucius, Nguyen Dynasty’s literature doctors, national heroes; Ngu Tu Nhac used in Than Nong, Thanh Hoang, Xa Tac worshiping ceremonies; Dai Trieu Nhac used in great ceremonies or receptions of foreign ambassadors; Thuong Trieu Nhac used in ordinary court ceremonies; Yen Nhac used in great royal banquets; Cung Nhac (or Cung Trung Nhac) used inside the royal palaces.