Seeding the Tradition (Paperback)
Musical Creativity in Southern Vietnam
For artists, creativity plays a powerful role in understanding, confronting, and negotiating the crises of the present. Seeding the Tradition explores conflicting creativities in traditional music in Hõ Chí Minh City, the Mekong Delta, and the Vietnamese diaspora, and how they influence contemporary southern Vietnamese culture. The book centers on the ways in which musicians of đón ca tài tù, a "music for diversion," practice creativity or sáng tạo in early 21st-century southern Vietnam. These musicians draw from long-standing theories of primarily Daoist creation while adopting strategically from and also reacting to a western neo-liberal model of creativity focused primarily - although not exclusively - on the individual genius. They play with metaphors of growth, development, and ruin to not only maintain their tradition but keep it vibrant in the rapidly-shifting context of modern Vietnam. With ethnographic descriptions of zither lessons in Hõ Chi Minh City, outdoor music cafes in Cãn Thơ, and television programs in Đõng Tháp, Seeding the Tradition offers a rich description of southern Vietnamese sáng tạo and suggests revised approaches to studying creativity in contemporary ethnomusicology.