Folk songs of the San Chi


The San Chi have developed a rich cultural tradition with various types of folk arts. “Sinh ca” is a type of call and response singing that has been preserved and promoted in their everyday life for generations. 
(Source: Quangninh.gov.vn)

The San Chi have a treasure of tales, poems, songs, chants, and proverbs. Sinh ca is a typical singing genre in their culture. Young boys and girls sing love songs and chants back and forth for.

The San Chi sing anytime and anywhere without any kind of musical instrument. They sing together through the night, when they go to the market, do farm work, welcome guests, and meet friends. 

Singing is the best way for the San Chi to express their feeling towards other people and their views of the surroundings. 

Lam Ho, a San Chi in Mong Cai city, Quang Ninh province, said, “Old people teach young people to sing. Some people write down the words to practice singing. I learn the songs by heart.”

A “Sinh ca” singing session may take place over 5 to 7 days, from 7 pm to the next morning. Young boys and girls are divided into 2 groups. Each group has a leader who sings well and knows many songs.

During a session, they sing between 700 and 1,000 songs. “Sinh ca” is a love duet and only unmarried people who are not of the same blood can participate. 

Hau Thanh Tinh, a San Chi in Mong Cai, said, “Young people go to a festival and sing to make the acquaintance of people from other villages. It’s a chance for them to become husbands and wives.” 

Call and response singing sessions after doing farm work, or at festivals and wedding ceremonies, are opportunities for young people to get to know each other and nurture loves. Many of them eventually tie the knot.

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