Hò khoan Lệ Thủy, the "ho! row!" song of Lệ Thủy District, Quảng Bình Province, is a Vietnamese folk music song style.[1]

The term can be translated "heave-ho!" and is a generic call in labouring songs,[2] khoan means to row.[3] The refrain "khoan khoan hò khoan!" ("row-row! ho! row!") references rowing. The song is characterized both by its antiphonal nature, with alternating groups of female and male singers issuing musical challenges and responses, and by the fact that most of the songs in the repertoire deal with topics of love and sentimentality as experienced by young adult.[4]

Hò khoan Lệ Thủy originated from Lệ Thủy District, Quảng Bình Province, North Central Coast, Vietnam. Local residents used to sing hò khoan when they worked in groups so that it would help them eliminate tiredness and speed up the productivity. Nowadays, hò khoan is sung mainly in local festivals and the original labouring songs have faded away. The San Francisco-based tenor Nguyẽ̂n Thành Vân released a CD Hò khoan Lệ Thủy - River Song in 1997.[5][6]

The first lines of a well-known version of Hò Khoan Lệ Thủy begin:

(Nữ) Hò khoan (hơ) hời khoan (hơ) mời bạn xô (hơ) hô khoan[7]
(Xô) Ơ là hô!
(Nữ) Thiếp gặp chàng dạ mừng hớn hở
Chàng gặp thiếp như mà hoa nở trên (hơ) bồn

This translates as:

(Female solo) Heave-ho, please join in the singing
(Chorus) Heave-ho
(Female solo) When I met you I was full of joy
When you met me, you felt like a flower blossoming

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Khắc Viện Nguyễn - Kể chuyện đất nước 1999 "Sau mùa gặt hái, đêm đêm ở các thôn xóm thơm mùi lúa mới, tiếng chày giã gạo quyện với tiếng hò đối đáp, thi tài giữa những xóm đông, có hò chào, hò vào cuộc, hờ xa cách... về Lệ Thủy ta nghe hò khoan thuyền ra khơi."
  2. ^ Walter Kaufmann Selected musical terms of non-Western cultures: a notebook-glossary 1990 "As prefix indicates a work song: ho do ta kea go, a woodcutter's song; ho khoan, a ferry man's song."
  3. ^ Barley Norton Songs for the Spirits: Music and Mediums in Modern Vietnam 2009 Page 121 "Ho is a generic term for a large body of folk songs found throughout Vietnam. They are associated with acts of labor, especially rowing, "
  4. ^ Yves Bonnefoy Asian Mythologies Page 224 1993 "the festival of midautumn is quite widespread.. They sing a round to the beat of the Ho Khoan ("Oh hoist") and perform the dance of the lion. At nightfall, groups of young men on one side and young girls on another sing the alternating verses of a long love song, a literary contest ..."
  5. ^ CD cover
  6. ^ Rough Guide to Vietnam Volume 4 - Page 541 Jan Dodd, Mark Lewis, Ron Emmons - 2003 "Nguyen Thanh Van Ho Khoan Le Thuy / River Song Van Nguyen Productions
  7. ^ Terry E. Miller, Sean Williams, The Garland encyclopedia of world music: Southeast Asia 1998 Volume 4 "Many of its ceremonies include dancing, singing, and playing instrumental music. On the principal day of the festival, ... To the captain's songs, the oarsmen respond hò khoan khoan hời hò khoan."