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Musical cosmopolitanism in late-colonial Hanoi

� Briain, Lon�n


Professor of Ethnomusicology


This article investigates how radio was used to amplify the reach of vernacular forms of musical cosmopolitanism in late-colonial Hanoi. Between 1948 and the early 1950s, the musicians of Việt Nhạc – the first all-Vietnamese ensemble to appear regularly on Radio Hanoi – performed a unique blend of popular chansons in Vietnamese and local folk styles live on air to a radio audience across French Indochina. These creative artists sounded out the final stages of French imperialism in the region and its associated forms of Western European-influenced musical cosmopolitanism; they also nurtured an attentive radio listenership who gradually shifted their ears to Sino-Soviet-influenced musical cosmopolitanism following independence. Drawing on archival records, radio guides and interview data, this research excavates the story of the Việt Nhạc ensemble from the uncomfortable crevice between colonial and postcolonial history. In retelling this story, the writing interrogates the relationship between cultural and political change at the end of an empire.


Ó Briain, L. (2018). Musical cosmopolitanism in late-colonial Hanoi. Ethnomusicology Forum, 27(3), 265-285.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 5, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2018
Publication Date Oct 1, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 21, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 2, 2020
Journal Ethnomusicology Forum
Print ISSN 1741-1912
Electronic ISSN 1741-1920
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 3
Pages 265-285
Keywords Vietnam, historical ethnomusicology, radio, colonialism, politics, cosmopolitanism
Public URL
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