Speaking with Music

Community Room

This event has ended.

This program is presented by Neng Now and sponsored by Beyond the Page.

HMong music is the last surviving musical language in the world—it is able to mimic HMong speech by using musical intervals, ornamentation, and chords to mimic linguistic tones, consonants, and vowels—allowing musicians to literally speak with music. However, there have not been many opportunities for this unique trait of HMong music to shine.

As the HMong community in the USA nears 50 years here—since the first wave of Hmong Vietnam War Refugees arrivals from Laos, many younger HMong-Americans have not had the chance to learn about this part of our music.

More programming to represent such a special cultural piece gives a spotlight to the diversity within Madison, the beauty present in other cultures and languages, and gives the HMong-American community an opportunity to realize that we are special and our culture is worthy of being shared and taught too!


Beyond the Page, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Madison Community Foundation

Presenter Bio:

Neng Now is a published artist, author, and scientist who has spent the start of his young professional career in content creation. He was born in Chiang Kham Refugee Camp in Thailand following the Vietnam War and grew up in Wisconsin, USA. He graduated from Harvard University with his Bachelor's in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology. In December 2017 he quit his day job to travel around the world, full-time, creating captivating art with the help of storytelling, visual content, and social media. His Facebook videos have received over 15 million views. In 2020 he produced a documentary, "Among Mountains," the first open-source documentary about the HMong of Laos, and he was awarded a Fulbright Research Grant in Linguistics to study the HMong musical languages of Laos.