Buddhist monk wins song composing prize

VietNamNet Bridge, Sept 20, 2009

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- Musician and Buddhist monk Thich Chan Quang has composed more than 60 songs, many of which have been performed in various national music programmes across the nation.

His song Nho Nguoi (Missing Him) won amongst all other songs composed about President Ho Chi Minh in a recent contest organised by the HCM City Music Association.

He shares his thoughts about music.

Besides various songs about the Buddhism, you’ve also composed many songs that praise your love of the country. What motivates you to compose?

Monks like me believe that the education and morality are very important. That’s why we wish to compose songs that convey what we want to say to others more clearly.

However, moral education through music demands a high aestheticism. Instead of talking about morality the way a serious preacher would, we bring in the melodies, which express the natural sentiments of human beings. With this, audiences can feel the emotions of and be sympathetic with the music.

Your songs often talk about the major problems of humanity. Many people who listen to your songs feel as if they are facing those problems. What is your secret?

We don’t compose songs for ourselves and we don’t aim to affirm our abilities. When we create, we hope audiences will find our songs interesting and enjoy the moral lyrics.

How do we make audiences find our songs interesting? It’s a secret of the composers, like the mysteries of the sky. We can believe that the music that people find interesting can also be appreciated by the birds and the fishes. An artist must set this goal and try to attain it.

In music history, many songs that are highly appreciated often express the real sentiments of human beings, like the love between a man and a woman. Have you composed songs on this subject?

No. When we create, we often avoid this subject and try to "explore" subjects that are still absent or rare in music.

The love between a man and a woman is an instinct in human beings. It has motivated musicians to create many love songs that have touched many people. They feel that the songs are written for them.

But through our eyes, we can see more beautiful sentiments than the love between a man and a woman. Composers should also think more about this subject, and help people think less about personal and egotistical sentiments.

By reading newspapers, we’ve learned about the difficult lives of Truong Sa soldiers, surrounded by waves and typhoons.

But do the people living on the mainland really understand it?

Recently, we composed the song Nghi Ve Nguoi Chien Si Dao Xa (Thinking about the Soldiers Living on Faraway Islands). We hope that other people can share their sympathies with those soldiers.

Some of your songs have been played on The Voice of HCM City. Have you planned a concert to bring your authentic and pure music to music-lovers nationwide?

I don’t know yet; it depends on the situation. When I write a piece of music, I don’t write for myself but for others. And when we write music not for other people, we may fail because of our individualism.

When we want to say something to other people, inspiration will come naturally. If we pay attention to life’s problems, we can create useful things from that.