Conferences, Symposiums & Talks

Musical creativity and Vietnamese traditional music

Alexander M Cannon

Date & Time
Date: Tue 7 Mar 2023
Time: 4:00pm – 5:00pm


Lecture Theatre,
Block F Level 2 #F201, LASALLE




Lecture / Talk

In this lecture, speaker Dr Alexander M. Cannon (University of Birmingham) will draw on material from his monograph Seeding the Tradition: Musical Creativity in Southern Vietnam.

Creativity or creation (sáng tạo) occupies an increasingly important place in the Vietnamese public sphere. Creativity even appeared as one of the four major themes of the 13th National Party Congress – a move that emerged after several years of intensifying engagement with the power of the concept.

Despite its prevalence, however, creativity and sáng tạo have occasionally divergent meanings and usages. Some of these usages are long-standing in Vietnam and reflect certain Daoist aesthetics; others mirror neoliberal understandings of a global creativity. Traditional music practice in Vietnam thus offers an opportune way to parse and evaluate these divergent meanings and make them more tangible and understandable.

Alexander will draw on examples of private and televised performances of đờn ca tài tử (a music for diversion in southern Vietnam) to present this argument.

About the speaker

Dr Alexander M. Cannon is an ethnomusicologist with research expertise in Vietnamese music and creativity studies. He holds a BA in music and mathematical economics from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Michigan. He currently is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham (UK) and also serves as Co-Editor of the journal Ethnomusicology Forum. He has published on genre, musical creativity, and practices of the Vietnamese diaspora in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Ethnomusicology, Ethnomusicology Forum and Asian Music. He expands this work in a monograph titled Seeding the Tradition: Musical Creativity in Southern Vietnam (Wesleyan University Press, 2022).