Make a Silence

Musical Dialogues in Asia


  • Barley Norton Goldsmiths, University of London



Asia, Vietnam, Music, Ethnomusicology, Festival


The Hanoi New Music Festival 2018 was an historic event. It was the largest festival of exploratory forms of new music that has ever been held in Vietnam, and artists from countries across Southeast Asia and Japan came to Hanoi to participate. The film Make a Silence - Musical Dialogues in Asia showcases the diverse, multimedia performances that took place at the Festival, including sound art for theatre and video, underground music and free improvisation. Like the Festival itself, Make a Silence is a sensory feast of musical and visual exploration. Combining vivid artistic images, conversations with musicians and footage of concerts, the film meditates on transnational dialogue in the contemporary music scene in Asia. Artists featured in the film include Otomo Yoshihide (Japan), Trần Thị Kim Ngọc (Vietnam), Jiradej Setabundhu (Thailand), Red Slumber (Vietnam), Siew-Wai Kok (Malaysia), Otto Sidharta (Indonesia) and Yii Kah Hoe (Malaysia).

The film is based on long-term ethnographic research in Vietnam by the director. It examines how transnational circuits of musical exchange in the new music scenes in Asia intersect with postcolonial politics, thereby challenging the often-presumed hegemony of Euro-American lineages of contemporary music.

Author Biography

Barley Norton, Goldsmiths, University of London

Barley Norton is a filmmaker and ethnomusicologist. He holds the position of Reader in Ethnomusicology in the Music Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He served as Chair of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology from 2015-18 and he established the new Ethnomusicology Film Prize at the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) International Film Festival in 2019. He also served on the Jury for the Intangible Culture Prize at the RAI International Festival for Ethnographic Film in 2015. He is the director of the film Hanoi Eclipse: The Music of Dai Lam Linh (56 minutes, 2010) distributed by DER (see His publications on film include the chapter "Ethnomusicology and Filmmaking", in Stephen Cottrell, ed. Music, Dance and Anthropology (forthcoming, Sean Kingston Publishing). He is also the author of the book Songs for the Spirits: Music and Mediums in Modern Vietnam(University of Illinois Press, 2009), and is co-editor of two volumes: Music and Protest in 1968 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which won the American Musicology Society’s 2014 Ruth A. Solie Award; and Music as Heritage (Routledge, 2019). At Goldsmiths, he teaches a practical ethnographic filmmaking course as part of the MA in Music. 




How to Cite

Norton, B. (2020). Make a Silence: Musical Dialogues in Asia. Journal of Anthropological Films, 4(02).