1. Little Song of River Lam, Longing for the Past, Song of the Magpie.

            The Skilled Chamber Music genre of Vietnamese traditional music (Nh¬c Tøi T¯) is the most highly improvisatory instrumental music in Vietnam. It is commonly heard accompanying Renovated Theater (C¿i LıÍng), in which actors sing their lines, adapting the play's particular lyrics to a standard repertory of instrumental pieces belonging to eight musical modes that reflect certain emotions or moods.

            Chamber pieces in this style include a short, unmeasured, improvised introduction (rao) followed by the rhythmical melody and regularly spaced meeting points where all the players must join together on the same note. Between these fixed points they are free to improvise within the mode and its associated decorative figures. Due to the tremendous room for improvisation players are valued for their skill at independent invention, often including wild rhythmic syncopation and pitch sliding, while still being able to keep their place in the rhythmic cycle and melodic skeleton.

            The most complex and widely performed melody in the repertory is Longing for the Past, composed around 1917-20 by Cao V√n L…u of B¬c Li‘u in Southern Vietnam. Since then the melody has evolved into a much longer form so that now, as here, only two phrases are generally performed at one sitting.  Little Song of River Lam (a composition by V…n V› of Saigon who died in 1988) often serves as a lead-in to Longing, which is followed by a short southern folk song with a similar modal character. This recording was made during 1994 T’t Lunar New Year festivities in Hø NÈi and incorporates the sound of distant firecrackers, used as a lark on the pretext of scaring away evil spirits.


2. Welcome Music (í [‘ tribe).

            Although village life was effectively decimated in the Central Highlands, thousands of dislocated inhabitants are now trying to re-establish their former communities.  For the í [‘ people, a matriarchal culture, this includes digging up their sets of tuned bronze gongs, buried and hidden before the war, and hanging them in their wooden long-houses where they can be played for ceremonies.  Visitors are welcomed to the household by an assembly of male gong players gathered on the long wooden bench that runs down the inside wall of each house, playing a kaleidoscope of shifting rhythmic patterns. As the music rings, the head woman of the house downs a cup of rice wine then offers it to visitors, always beginning with the women. Most wealthier families have a set of gongs; their degree of wealth is proportional to the length of the bench and number of gongs.

            The gong ensembles of houses in this area consist of six small flat gongs (sometimes hanging, sometimes held), a large hand-held bossed gong played with a cloth-covered beater, a large hanging bossed gong (with a raised bump in the middle), a large hanging flat gong, and one large bass drum covered with water buffalo hide. The beginnings and endings of the music are signaled by cues from the drum while the bossed gongs keeps the steady pulse throughout. Of the six players beating the suspended gongs, two are expert leaders they establish interlocking patterns which are picked up by the players on either side of them, before departing on more freely improvised rhythmic excursions.

            The languages of hill tribes in Vietnam fall into three families, each of which are represented in this recording: Malayo-Polynesian, spoken by the í [‘; Sino-Tibetan, spoken by the H'M‰ng; and Austro-Asian, spoken by the Tøy. The tribal languages are declining in use because of the dominant Vietnamese culture's intention to acculturate the more than fifty-five minorities.



3. Hø L÷u (NÒng tribe).

            Along the ruggedly mountainous northern border with China many different ethnic tribes live in co-existence, interrupted only by sporadic incursions and massacres by the Chinese. Tøy, NÒng, Dao, Sænh Chfi, H'M‰ng and people of other tribes may be seen throughout the region in their distinct costumes planting rice in the rocky terrain or coaxing their horses and carts to market. To pass the time when things get slow, the NÒng have developed a dialogue game (sli) as a form of public entertainment. One or two couples sing and engage in coy flirting back and forth all afternoon while a crowd gathers to admire the double entendres and potential for embarrassment.

            Hø L÷u is one of a repertory of five two-voiced melodies to which new lyrics are improvised on the spot. Since the new texts are sung simultaneously there is a gap between verses while the singers whisper to each other, conferring to decide the next lyric.  Skilled singers are quicker at inventing new words and more devastating when their wits are sharpened. Here a female couple sings for their own amusement along the road; at other times they may sit on a porch with a couple of men, an opium gleam in their eye, and lull the time away.

            Let the river carry me along and may I have reached the age of marriage by the time I arrive.  My beloved is like a rose, but I don't know if he has any thorns to prick me.

May our love be as unattainable and pure as a reflection in the water.


4. Hø L÷u (NÒng). 

            Traditional culture is now the focus of Vietnamese government programs to "promote preservation" and "develop inheritance." Often the music is fundamentally altered when it is co-opted for the advancement of socialist ideals, but here these seven year old girls have learned Hø L÷u in the traditional way: from their parents who teach them standard phrases before learning to invent new texts.  The new generation however is being encouraged to develop a more conscious stage presentation; by using facial expression and elegant hand gestures these girls interpret the meaning of the lyrics (here the natural beauty of the region) for the Vietnamese audience, as well as by a macaronic alternation of Vietnamese and NÒng languages.


5. H‘u Phım (NÒng). 

            These sixteen year olds, in two couples, sing another melody of the sli genre (see Tracks 3 and 4). The men and women here use a different tonal area for their verses and have regular solo passages. When singing back and forth the couple that is not singing must listen carefully and come up with a quick response; whispering can be heard as they confer.


6. Elope in Spring (based on the music of H'M‰ng people).

            These musicians, a family of seven brothers which plays under the name PhÒ [Áng, have been performing together for fourteen years. They have become well known for their blend of traditional tribal musics and new compositions, a style of folk revival or renovated tradition known as Nh¬c d…n tÈc c¿i bi‘n. With its format of musical arrangement derived from the teachings of the conservatory system of eastern Europe, the forms of these pieces are simple: Introduction, Theme, Development (with a little cadenza on the featured instrument), Restatement, Coda. Stage presentation (designed for TV screens and hotel lobbies) can be showy with elaborate "native" costumes and exaggerated body movements while the re-orchestrations and harmonizations elaborate the original tune as a vehicle for virtuoso display.

            In their compositions PhÒ [Áng manages to maintain a feeling for the origins of their works, here a H'M‰ng folk tune. This is played on a bamboo reed pipe, an instrument like a flute with a free bamboo reed in the mouthpiece which gives a characteristic buzz. The use of circular breathing, in which the player inhales through the nose while expelling air from his mouth, makes the tone of the instrument and the technique of the player all the more remarkable. The group takes its name from a Vietnamese legendary character, a weakling mute baby who grew to hulking proportions on hearing that his country was being invaded by the Chinese, and promptly sent them packing.


7. Spring Love Song (H'M‰ng tribe).

            The term H'M‰ng has come in recent years to represent several distinct yet related tribes to be found in areas across Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and North East Thailand. From the "same" tribe as in Track 6, only 1,000 kilometers to the north, comes a spring folk song with a similar  character of modal intervals, sung here by a rice farmer.


8. Offering Incense (Mediums' Trance Singing).

            At the Jade Bowl Temple in Hu’, named after the azure-colored pool set in a hill overlooking the Perfume River, ChÀu V√n or trance singing is traditionally performed on the 10th day of the 3rd month and the 15th day of the 7th month of the Lunar calendar. Goddess worship predates the arrival of Buddhism in Vietnam although the known goddesses of the ChÀu V√n tradition pertain to much later times. Statues of a pantheon of goddesses are placed in Mother Houses found at Buddhist temple complexes and village shrines. Through the performance of hypnotically rhythmic music (the performers may be one or many, male or female) a medium enters a trance state and is possessed by a chosen deity. Because of the anti-religious stance of the Vietnamese government until 1986, the style was practiced in secret and also was adapted for inclusion in state-sponsored Hæt Ch–o theater presentations and is currently being revived by older practitioners in its original religious setting. ChÀu V√n is also being openly revived because the growing economy has created a class of nouveau riche who would like the goddesses to intercede and protect their businesses.

            Many of the textual references here are obscure to the younger generation of Vietnamese because of the Hu’ regional dialect, the antiquated nature of the Chinese-influenced lyrics, and the fact that the vowels of the sacred names have been altered to preserve their magical quality (it would be an affront to pronounce the name of a goddess too precisely). The jumbled poetic form suggests this poem is from the 16th century, before poems became regularized as 7, 7, 6, 8 syllable lines with perfect rhymes; and the singer adds transitional vocalizations and word repetitions as she gets carried away.


To start, I now pray to the deities, Who are sitting there as if they are still alive, That these incantations of the Law become efficacious, And that they would deign to respond to these incense sticks.


That I, their disciple, with a sincere heart, offer them; The incense's voluminous smoke reaches the Nine Heavens; Offering this fragrant opportunity in front of the Sanctuary, I pray that you would agree to come down in front of this audience.


Three pourings of rice wine, one offering at each bell sound; We offer you also a smoke and betel and areca nut, Inviting all four mansions to come down: Heaven above, the Middle World, the Highlands, and the Sea Palace.


Please help so that I, the medium, can do as I wish; Please help so that my name will spread far and wide; Give me your protection, your power, your essence; Your spreading protection, please come inside me.


Did you know, an immortal can come among us profane people; When it feels sympathy with what we communicate?


Little did you know that vanity, everything is vanity; As human beings we tend to be blind to these truths; Even though the evidence is there for us to see night and day, Causing us even uncounted calamities.


In olden times, so the books still record the fact, There was born a lotus [the 16th century Lady Lÿu H¬nh, contemporary of PhÒng Khƒc Khoan] at Ph Cæt near the Ngang Pass. When her power manifested itself kings and lords were full of praise, Her appearance glorified Vietnam and left a mark for all eternity.


Open the Golden Book and look up the legend: Clearly the way of the gods existed, no doubt, For they could mark a white paper dipped in pure water, Showing the descent of the Immortal Lady, which was how we learned.


Another common indication of Her descent Would also be the shaking of the blinds as if there were a breeze.


I, your disciple, will keep the lamp and incense burning, My conviction strong because of an unshaken faith As I seek protection under the gods' shadow, the Lady's power, Your spiritual power reinforcing your widespread fame.


A complete offering of incense: please see through to my devotion; Down here, I have practised the faith without letup.

ThÀn kim ngıÓng khÌi, T`u chı t‰n

T„a vfi dıÍng dı, kiŸm nhıÔc tÊn

NguyŸn th‹nh Phæp …m, ti diŸu l˙c

TÒy cÍ ph� c¿m, n¬p trÀn hıÍng.


Nay {Ÿ t¯, t…m thønh d…ng lø ti’n

Khfli ng¬t ngøo, th`u tÎi C¯u trÒng thi‘n

[iŸn ti÷n phÙng hi’n hıÍng duy‘n

NguyŸn xin chı vfi, t„a ti÷n giæng l…m.


RıÔu tam tuÀn, nh`t ch…m nh`t ti’n

Hi’n {i’u hıÍng, cung ti’n phÒ lang.

Th‹nh mÏi tˆ phÚ vøng ban,

ThıÔng thi‘n Trung giÎi, ThıÔng ngøn ThÚy cung


[È cho {Êng, t‡ng t…m sÌ nguyŸn

[È cho {Êng, nˆc ti’ng thÍm danh

Giæng phÒ, giæng phœp, giæng linh,

PhÒ linh t·a bflng, {È sanh cho {Êng.


Hay {…u, ti‘n cÛng giæng phøm

BÌi l‡ng c¿m ˆng l`y løm thÀn th‰ng.


Ch∆ng ngÓ r≈ng: kh‰ng kh‰ng, sƒc sƒc

NgıÏi trÀn gian, tÂi mƒt kh‰ng hay

DÀu ai ban b {‘m ngøy

Løm cho h„a gifl tai bay tÎi ngıÏi


ThuÌ xıa sæch c‡n ghi chuyŸn trıÎc

D`u [–o Ngang, Ph Cæt m`y phen

Oai ra vua ch�a {÷u khen

ThÍm danh c‚i ViŸt, d`u truy÷n ngøn n√m.


GiÌ quy◊n vøng, mø xem t⁄ch cÛ

[¬o thænh thÀn, cÛng cfl ch∆ng kh‰ng

Tøn nhang gi`y trƒng nıÎc trong

Thænh Ti‘n cfl {È, thønh {Êng mÎi hay


Thæc r–m nh…n l�c gifl lay

CÛng lø Thænh tÎi xıa nay viŸc thıÏng


[Ÿ t¯ con, {–n hıÍng khuya sÎm

D¬ {inh ninh mÈt t`m l‡ng tin

NıÍng nhÏ bflng Thænh, hÊn Ti‘n

NÁi danh Thænh {¬o cfl quy÷n anh linh


HıÍng mÈt tuÀn, TÁ Ti‘n soi th`u

DıÎi con {ø, {Âc {¬o, trung lıÍng.



9. Hail Mary.

            The Catholic pre-Mass citation, Hail Mary, is usually repeated silently to oneself as a form of prayer. During recitation of the rosary one repeats to oneself, mantra-wise, one Our Father and ten Hail Marys and another Our Father. Here, however, it is chanted out loud, alternatim, by children of the Hø NÈi Cathedral school and the assembled congregation of elder worshippers.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


K⁄nh m˜ng Ma-ri-a {Ày Ín phıÎc, [ˆc Ch�a TrÏi Ì cÒng Bø, Bø cfl phıÎc l¬ hÍn m„i ngıÏi n˘ vø Gi‘-su con l‡ng Bø gÊm phıÎc l¬. Thænh Ma-ri-a [ˆc M” Ch�a TrÏi cÀu cho ch�ng con lø k— cfl tÈi khi nay vø trong giÏ l…m t¯. A-men.


10. Here V› D¬ Village (Poet: Høn M¬c T¯, 1912-1940) (Declaimed Poetry).

            Since Vietnamese is a tonal language, where the pitch of a syllable is significant, it is important when singing to retain the contour of the spoken word in order to retain text meaning. There is thus a natural melodic correspondence between the sung and spoken language. Somewhere between speaking and singing comes Declaimed Poetry, where the expression inherent in heightened speech is formulated over a musical mode. Along with the voice, another instrument may improvise a simultaneous response to the text, sometimes acting as a drone, sometimes as an independent line. Usually it is the flute that accompanies, but here a Vietnamese monochord; a single string stretched over a long box (electrically amplified nowadays), with a buffalo horn "whammy bar" lever at one end. By flexing the lever and plucking the string at harmonic nodes to activate the natural overtones, a wide and subtly-nuanced range can be achieved by varying the tautness of the string after plucking.

            The poet Høn M»c T¯ came from a poor family in Central Vietnam.  He started writing poetry in his teens but developed leprosy, converted to Catholicism, and died in a leper colony at the age of 28.  His works, mostly poems, reveal him to be the first Vietnamese surrealist poet. The singer, L‘ thfi Nh…n, manages a small villa and is one of many amateur singers who declaim poetry at social occasions.


Why don't you return to V› D¬ village for a visit, To look at the lighted betel palms?

Somebody's garden looks so fresh! Green as an emerald. Through the criss-crossing bamboo leaves appears a face of sincerity.


The wind goes its way, the clouds theirs, The stream of water looks so melancholy, the corn flowers are swaying...Whose boat is moored there at the Moon riverside? Could it carry the moon back in time for tonight?


Dreaming of the faraway visitor, the faraway visitor...My flowing tunic is so white it might not be recognized...Here the fog and the smoke blur human figures, Who knows whose love is more enduring?

Sao anh kh‰ng v÷ th√m th‰n V›?

Nh€n nƒng høng cau, nƒng mÎi l‘n

V˜Ín ai mıÎt quæ! Xanh nhı ng„c.

Læ tr�c che ngang m»t ch˘ {i÷n.


Gifl theo lÂi gifl, m…y {ıÏng m…y,

D‡ng nıÎc buÊn thiu, hoa bƒp lay...

Thuy÷n ai {Œu b’n s‰ng Tr√ng {fl.

Cfl chÌ tr√ng v÷ kfip tÂi nay?


MÍ khæch {ıÏng xa, khæch {ıÏng xa...

|o em trƒng quæ nh€n kh‰ng ra...

´ {…y  sıÍng khfli mÏ nh…n ¿nh,

Ai bi’t t€nh ai cfl {Œm {ø?


11.  Poem of Farewell. (Poet: Th…m T…m, 1917-1950) (Declaimed Poetry).

            Another well-known poem declaimed by the same singer and player.


Bidding you adieu I did not cross the river,

Why was there the sound of waves in my heart? The evening glow was neither red, nor yellowish, Why was the full sunset cast in your limpid eyes? Bidding you adieu, and only you, For once you leave the family, for once you seem so indifferent...


Oh, you who are leaving! walking down a small lane, If your goals are not realized and your hands are empty, Then never speak of returning! And for three years, dear old mother, please do not wait!


I knew that you were blue the evening before; And now in summer the last lotus flowers were blossoming, One sister, two sisters, just like the lotus flowers, Gave final counsel to their younger brother in grieving tears.


I knew you were blue this morning: It was not yet autumn, and white clouds were already drifting, Your kid brother, eyes innocent and gleaming, Wrapped his love in his handkerchief...You are leaving? Oh, yes, you are surely leaving! Dear old mother, think of him as a wandering leaf,

Sisters, think of him as a stray piece of dust, Brother, think of him as an exhilerating bouquet of wine.

[ıa ngıÏi, ta kh‰ng {ıa sang s‰ng,

Sao cfl ti’ng sflng Ì trong l‡ng?

Bflng chi÷u kh‰ng thƒm, kh‰ng vøng v„t,

Sao {Ày hoøng h‰n trong mƒt trong?

[ıa ngıÏi, ta ch‹ {ıa ngıÏi `y

MÈt gi¡ gia {€nh, mÈt d¯ng dıng...


- Ly khæch! Ly khæch! con {ıÏng nh·,

Ch⁄ lÎn chıa v÷ bøn tay kh‰ng,

Th€ kh‰ng bao giÏ nfli trÌ l¬i!

Ba n√m, m” giø cÛng {˜ng mong.


Ta bi’t ngıÍi buÊn chi÷u h‰m trıÎc

B…y giÏ mÒa h¬ sen nÌ nÂt,

MÈt chfi, hai chfi cÒng nhı sen,

Khuy‘n nÂt em trai d‡ng lŸ sflt.


Ta bi’t ngıÍi buÊn sæng h‰m nay:

TrÏi chıa mÒa thu, m…y trƒng bay,

Em nh· ng…y thÍ {‰i mƒt bi’c

Gfli tr‡n thıÍng ti’c chi’c kh√n tay...

NgıÏi {i?  µ nh‹, ngıÏi {i th˙c!

M” thø coi nhı chi’c læ bay,

Chfi thø coi nhı lø h¬t bÙi,

Em thø coi nhı hıÍng [hÍi] rıÔı say.


12. Phong Slı (Tøy tribe). 

            Part of keeping folk songs alive and relevant to contemporary life is to invent new lyrics for existing melodies, to honor a person or event, or to commemorate an occasion. Here, a Tøy song has been newly kitted out with an additional Vietnamese text in order to project post-revolutionary sentiments.


Oh homeland, country of the revolution, Cao Bang Same thoughts, same wishes, same songs, Oh my vast, beautiful, prosperous country, Flowers are blooming everywhere, The sweet scent of victorious "5-ton" flowers* Flowers of frontier victories. Across five continents the world is praising us, The flowers are blossoming more each day.


* At one time the government urged farmers to produce five tons of rice per hectare.

Qu‘...Qu‘ cæch m¬ng...Cao B≈ng...

Li÷n t…m li÷n t⁄nh li÷n c…u ca

¢i qu‘ hıÍng giÀu {”p bao la

Khƒp m„i chÂn nÌ hoa tıÍi thƒm

Hoa chi’n c‰ng n√m t`n thÍm hıÍng

Hoa chi’n thƒng ti÷n phıÍng vang dÈi

Khƒp n√m ch…u th’ giÎi ngÔi ca

MËi ngøy cøng th‘m hoa th‘m sƒc.


13. Then (Tøy). 

            The then style consists of a repertory of about five melodies with many text variations used as ritual songs of defense against demons during a three-day Spring festival. By the third day the shaman/singer has worked into enough of a frenzy to ensure that he or she has enough magical powers for the coming year. It is thought the term then may derive from thÀn (deity) or thi‘n (heaven). This song from the eastern part of Cao B≈ng province is accompanied on a two-stringed lute played by the Tøy of this region.


14. LıÔn Then (Tøy). 

            The singer, an ex-shaman, now a local government official, describes this song, which is sung in Tøy, a language of the Austro-Asian family:

            "When I was young the girls would flirt with me and I had to learn how to flirt back! That's how courting and love go...if you are ashamed or embarrassed you have to sing with a sweet voice.

            This is a courting song. When boys and girls go to the forest to gather firewood they miss each other and cry because their legs are not walking side by side together. They promise that when the fire burns all the way to the edge of the forest, and when the water runs the opposite way in the stream, only then will they forget each other. We know that when Spring comes, the flowers will bloom, but we never know which one will bloom first, which one last. So keep your confidence, don't dither about."


15. Two Trees on the Hill (Red Yao tribe). 

            This singer, in her eighties, is the last known member of the Red Yao tribe; her customs, language, music, and culture will not survive her. Her appearance at local festivals to sing is a curiosity since noone else speaks her native tongue. Even the name of her tribe is usually misrepresented as Dao or Zao. All the same, she makes up new texts in honor of special occasions or common romantic scenarios and sings them to a standard melodic formula.

There are two beautiful trees on a hill like two people who cannot be married, only give shade to one another.


16. On the Hill (Red Yao)

On the hill there are two fine old teak trees where many young couples go to court and play.


17. Happy Gathering at Harvest (Folk Revival style)

            The percussion group PhÒ [Áng plays an arrangement of a folk dance on an ensemble of xylophones derived from models in the Central Highlands, accompanied by large held gongs.


18. The Beautiful T…y Thi, Poetic Song, Evening Dew (Skilled Chamber Music).

            The seven modes of traditional Vietnamese music each correspond to a particular emotion and fall into two main categories; the Southern (Nam) modes (as in Track 1) which represent wistfulness, longing, despair, upset, regret and complaint, and the Northern (Bƒc) modes (heard here), which represent exuberance and contentment. The Beautiful T…y Thi and Poetic Song are both in the happy mode named Bƒc, while Evening Dew is in the Cantonese (Qu¿ng) mode, which expresses fantasy and maybe sounds a little Chinese.           Because of the current state of musical education in Vietnam, with its emphasis on western classical and pop music and a unified Vietnamese traditional repertory, few younger players have the opportunity to learn to play or appreciate this style of music. The shift from family learning through oral tradition to institutionalized learning via written notation is having unforseeable effects on all aspects of Vietnamese music.


19. City Soundscape

            A collage featuring typical street sounds from Hø NÈi.  In order of appearance:

     Fallen and flailing electric power line shoots sparks across a busy street;

     Blind street busker croons pop songs with battery-operated guitar and bull-horn PA led by a boy (a sappy song about loss; Why ever did I let you marry another man?);

     Metalsmiths pounding on Brass Street;

     Actors promoting a show by pedaling their mask-laden cart while striking a drum and bell;

     Wood beetle devouring a wardrobe;

     Prayer bell at Kim Li‘n Pagoda; and

     Noon Mass bells at Hø NÈi Cathedral.





The performers and all those who helped me with the trip; Translations and notes:  Cung Th�c Ti’n, Nguyÿn Ng„c B⁄ch, Nguyÿn Thuy’t Phong, Miranda Arana, T‰n N˘ LŸ Ba, L˘ MÈng Chi and Nguyÿn Thønh V…n.  Sound editing: Victor Zupanc and John Sailer. Funding for the trip:  Asian Cultural Council and Northwest Airlines.  Arrangements: Vietnamese Musicians' Association (Hø nÈi: HÊng [√ng, VÛ TÙ L…n, N‰ng QuÂc B€nh, [øo Tr„ng T˜, Hu’: TrÀn H˘u Phæp, Nguyÿn Duy Linh, V‚ [ˆc T…m, V‚ Qu’, Thønh Ph HÊ Ch⁄ Minh: Ph¬m Tr„ng CÀu, Xu…n HÊng, Ca L‘ ThuÀn, Thanh TÒng, DiŸp Minh Tuy÷n). Recording funded by: The McKnight Foundation and Minnesota Composers Forum.


All recordings by Philip Blackburn (except for Track 2, by Miranda Arana); concept, production, editing, mixing and photos too.  Adam Kapel: layout and digital graphics.  Painting by Hu’ artist Nguy“n Duy Linh, NgıÏi NgÊi Ru ThÏi Gian [One Who Sits Lulling the Time. Oil on canvas, 32"x40", 1993]. Disc design from a Vietnamese Bronze Age drumhead, c. 500 B.C., c. 40" diameter. Cut-out figures are the singers on tracks 7, 3, 5, and 15 (from L to R).