traditional and contemporary music and art: a political, social and artistic work in progress


The group

The Six Tones is a platform for an encounter between traditional and experimental cultures in Asia and the west. The core of this practice is, since 2006, an ongoing project of mutual learning between musicians from Vietnam and Sweden. The Six Tones is a group that plays traditional Vietnamese music in hybrid settings for Western stringed instruments and traditional Vietnamese instruments and improvise in traditional and experimental Western idioms and also commission new works in collaboration with artists in Asia as well as in other parts of the world.

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The Six Tones are Nguyễn Thanh Thủy (who plays đàn tranh) and Ngô Trà My (who plays đàn bầu), two Vietnamese performers, and the Swedish guitarist Stefan Östersjö (also playing many other stringed instruments). Since the project started, we have been collaborating with the composer and improviser Henrik Frisk, who has both composed works for the ensemble as well as toured with the group as a laptop improviser.

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The ambition

Our main point of departure has been to create a foundation for a meeting between two distinct musical cultures on equal terms. This practice implies the questioning of what is ”centre” and what is ”periphery”: is the Western art music the norm (centre) and the traditional Vietnamese music an exotic ”other”? Still a long time after the world had been found to rotate around the sun, the world, in the mind of a Westerner, continued to be centred round Europe. In music, we find a parallel in the conception of differences of a hierarchic nature between notated and orally transmitted music.

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Latest Posts

CD recordings

For CDs by The Six Tones, see the Recordings page.

Post-Human Computation Excerpts

A concert video of Post-Human Computation will be released on DVD in 2015. Two excerpts from the video can be seen here: Excerpt 1 Excerpt 2  

Go to Hell 2

Go to Hell: Excerpt from Stockholm performance 2013.

Go to Hell 1

Il se tourna – Video by Henrik Frisk and Anders Elberling.