Sunday, July 5, 2020

Forms of Ca tru – one kind of Vietnamese folk music

Ca tru, like many ancient and highly developed arts, has many forms. However, the most widely known and widely performed type of ca tru involves only three performers: the female vocalist, lute player and a spectator.


The female singer provides the vocals whilst playing her phách (small wooden sticks beaten on a small bamboo platform to serve as percussion). She is accompanied by a man who plays the đàn đáy, a long-necked, 3-string lute used almost exclusively for the ca trù genre. Last is the spectator (often a scholar or connoisseur of the art) who strikes a trống chầu (praise drum) in praise (or disapproval) of the singer’s performance, usually with every passage of the song. The way in which he strikes the drum shows whether he likes or dislikes the performance, but it must be based on the beat provided by the vocalists phach percussion.

The performing art of ca tru itself is quite complicated requiring the singer to be lofty and elegant in gesture but no less sentimental. The internal breathing is of greatest importance in the singing technique. Also the beating of castanets is very sophisticated; the singer has to express her feelings and sentiments through the sound of castanets.

Quach Thi Ho is one of the few Vietnamese traditional artists recognized internationally. In 1976, Professor Tran Van Khe recorded Mrs. Ho’s ca tru songs to introduce to a global audience. In 1978, she was awarded an honorary diploma by UNESCO’s International Music Council and the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies for her contribution in preserving “traditional music of great artistic and cultural value.” Her recording of ca tru ranked first among songs from 29 other countries in the International Festival of Traditional Music held in Pyong Yang (the capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea) in 1983. It won another first prize in a similar festival held in Moscow. UNESCO honored the old artisan with the solemn words: “Thank you for preserving Vietnam’s valuable traditional art heritage, a treasure to mankind”.

Mrs. Ho’s golden voice was second to none. Some said it was as mild as silk, as warm as spring sunlight, and pure like moonlight. With her outstanding talent and great contribution to Vietnamese culture, she was nominated to the list of legendary women of the world.

Until now, there are some famous ca tru songs such as Thu Hung (Inspiration of Autumn), Ty Ba Hanh, Dao Hong, Dao Tuyet (Singer Hong, Singer Tuyet) can still stir a Vietnamese soul. They were written by famous poets who are deeply memorized in listeners’ mind like Nguyen Cong Tru, Cao Ba Quat, Nguyen Khuyen, Nguyen Quy Tan, Chu Manh Trinh, Phan Van Ai and Nguyen Thuong Hien…

Source : Vietnam – beauty

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