[Vu Nhat Tan] What is your Favourite Sound?

‘World of Sounds’ experimental musician and composer Vu Nhat Tan answers our questions. Plus, he put together a playlist to get you in the mood!
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Vu Nhat Tan has taken his classical piano training and run wild and free. His sounds have spanned the globe from Ulaanbaatar to Chicago, but his upcoming ‘World of Sounds’ tour has him on Hanoian home turf. Organised in collaboration with upcoming talent Nguyen Hong Giang, their tour of the city includes five sessions that explore various aspects of experimental and electronic music and feature some of the city’s leading musicians in the field. Expect sounds from Tri Minh, Dao Anh Khanh, Dee.F, Nguyen Hong Nhung and Nguyen Do Minh Quan.

“I love the noise from concrete drilling machine”

&: What is your favourite sound?
Vu Nhat Tan: I love the noise from concrete drilling machines and other machines that can be found in the Old Quarter. The punching machines, paper or iron cutting machines… even that of the vehicles jamming the streets can be enjoyable somehow.

&: Experimental music seems to be really taking off exponentially over the last few years. What do you think is driving this?
Vu Nhat Tan: It is not entirely true [that experimental music is taking off exponentially]. In Vietnam me and the first experimental music group were very active from 1991 for the decade up until 2000. There was quite a lull after that. In the last one or two years, experimental music has made a comeback thanks to a younger, more dynamic and creative generation of artists. They will probably be the ones to take this kind of music much further.

“Experimental is real.”

&: What intrigues classically trained musicians, like yourself, about experimental music?
Vu Nhat Tan: It’s the creativeness, the freedom to explore and express.
 Experimental music is not a genre. It’s an expression that is not limited by any borders, any genres or the influence of great predecessors. ‘Experimental’ is real. Since it’s an experiment it can be good or bad, people may like it or may not, and you can get lucky, or be faced with some hoodoos. Experimental artists [can] feel lonely at times.

&: What do you listen to, when it’s not experimental music?
Vu Nhat Tan: I listen to various genres. On cold and rainy days, I turn on some cheesy music, aka “V-Pop”. It’s not just about listening to the tunes, it’s also about finding out what is on the mind of young people nowadays, what they want to do or to present through their music.

&: Who inspires you in the experimental music scene and why?
Vu Nhat Tan: Nobody specifically. I approach experimental music from different angles, many kinds of music from various time periods and through a lot of people. 
In 1989 at the age of 19, I first listened to contemporary vinyl records given to my dad by overseas Vietnamese every time they visited Hanoi. My father was a traditional Vietnamese music researcher. I listened to them on a Melodia phonograph made in the Soviet Union. At first I only heard background noise, then I made out sounds and I thought it was a special kind of music.

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