The Songs of the U-90 musical band in Hoi An Ancient Town

By HOANG LY – PHAN ANH |

(QNO) - Under the colourful bright light, three old men appeared on the stage with a musical instrument on the back and a wooden stick in the hand. After saluting the audiences, they began to perform immortal songs, and the audiences seemed to be bewitched following the melodies. They are members of  the U-90 Musical Band of Hoi An Ancient Town…

The Old Melody musical band playing with their passion to serve tourists.
The Old Melody musical band playing with their passion to serve tourists.

In a small room located in the center of Hoi An ancient quarter (78 Le Loi street), the melody of song in the continuous claps of the fans.

The first teacher’s  last recommendation

 Every night, when the light along the street at the Hoai square turned on, the musical performance begins. Standing beside an old piano in a small room located in the center of Hoi An ancient quarter (78 Le Loi street), MC and 74 year-old singer Hoang Vu says a welcome to the audiences. From the back curtain, three old instrumentalists go out. They are members of the Old Melody musical band of Hoi An ancient town. The slow and smooth melodies of the song Green Field sounded up and other instrumentalists performed passionately to open the performance night... For  nearly 20 years, the  musical band led by Mr Thai Chi Hao (86 years old) has welcomed and served  many domestic and foreign tourists.

“They performed French music better than French  players. How excellent they are!,” a French said after enjoying the song Spring Butterflies of France. The melody of the Vietnamese song Wandering Steps made the fans happy and interesting. Then, the instrumentalists performed passionately the song Green Field. In nearly two hours, song after song, melody after melody, the performance finished with an Italian song Comback to Sorento in the continuous claps of the fans.

The U-90 skinny fingers continue to glide smoothly on the keys every night.
The U-90 skinny fingers continue to glide smoothly on the keys every night.

I and Mr Quang visited Mr Hao at his house. He told me about his musical career. When being  young man, he studied music with artist La Hoi, composer of the famous song Spring and the youth. “At that time, I often went to the Hoai river to listen to musical performances organised by the French. At 6 years old, I participated  the “Youth League” and began to study music...,” Mr Hao remembered. “I loved music very much. I trained all the day, and sometimes, in my sleep, I dreamt of musical notes dancing in my head. I was very poor, therefore, I  had to borrow my friend’s guitar to study. In order to help us to remember the musical notes easily, my teacher used the number from 1 to 7 to replace the notes Do, Re, Mi… ” Mr Quang added.

“Before passing away, our beloved  teacher La Hoi gave us his last recommendation: “ You have to continue to study music”. He also gave us his notebooks with many songs written inside,” Mr Hao said with a sad tone.

The Old Melody of Hoi An ancient town keeping tourists’ steps

Growing up in the love of their beloved teacher La Hoi, Mr Quang and Mr Hoi overcame many difficulties to continue the way of learning music and became famous instrumentalists of Hoi An ancient town. After1954, Mr Hao went to Ho Chi Minh city to work and continued to study at the Musical Institute. After 1975, he came back Hoi An city to live and participated popular musical performances. He and his old friend Quang instructed many young musical artists and some of them became famous singers and composers  such as  Hoang Huu Tiet, Duong Minh Ninh…

In 1990, our instrumentalists were old, they could not continue to  perform music in remote places. Mr Hoi and Mr Quang  and his old friends organised The Old Melody musical band to play in the free time. People came to enjoy the band’s performances more and more. “We like to perform  in the heart of Hoi An ancient town, because it makes our life and music  better,” Mr Hoi said.

In 1990, the first foreign tourists began visiting Hoi An city, but this ancient town’s music  performance  activities seemed to be forgotten. Although many members of the “Musical golden generation” left the stage one by one, but occasionally, Mr Hoi and his closed friend met and played music together to forget sadness and create happy moments in the old age…

 In a spring day of 2008, The Culture and Sports Center of Hoi An city invited The Old Melody band to comeback the stage. They were very happy. Some other singers and instrumentalists participated the band to serve tourists… Night after night, the stage lights of the 70 year- old artists - The Old Melody musical band - were turned on again. The skinny fingers continued to glide smoothly on the keys, attracted more and more audiences and kept the visitors’ steps by famous and immortal songs. It has also created a new and fresh atmosphere for this ancient town since that day…

By HOANG LY – PHAN ANH