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The Art of Enunciation

As a hip-hop listener and a lyrical freak, I pay close attention to the accentuation of the words. Listening to Vietnamese music is no exception. I am a stickler for those diacritical intonations as well as the differences between “ch” and “tr” or the ones that ended with “n” (gian) or “ng” (giang), and so on. I find these nuances to be fascinating, and Vietnamese singers should as well.

This brings me back to Tuan Ngoc again. Yes, that guy who loves to close his eyes when he sings. Yes, the guy with all the veins popping out if his neck when he soars. But heck, he could sing not only well, but also correct in his exotic enunciations. As much as I would love to say that I know the capitol of Vietnam, I know jack about Ha Noi. Yet when Tuan Ngoc sings Trinh Cong Son’s “Nho Mua Thu Ha Noi,” I could sense the fragrance of “cay com nguoi vang,” “hoa sua,” “com xanh,” and “com sua,” even though I have no clued what they smell or look like. They all come from the way he articulates those words, especially “nguoi,” “sua,” and “com.”

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Trinh Cong Son had crafted these lyrical words, not Tuan Ngoc. That is not incorrect, but when other singers cover this tune they could only get as far as the visual elements such as “mai ngoi tham nau” or “mau suong thuong nho, bay sam cam nho vo canh mat troi,” not to the point where I could psychologically smell the poetical stimulations. See, I don’t need Ecstasy to get me high, a simple song from Tuan Ngoc and Trinh Cong Son would do. Big up to Duy Cuong for the gorgeous vibe as well.

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