Ca tru singing – Intangible Cultural Heritage

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Ca tru singing – Intangible Cultural Heritage

vietnam visa   Ca tru singing   Intangible Cultural Heritage

Brief introduction

            Anyone who has ever listened to the call-and-response dialogue song, can’t refuse that the most important catalyst in the development of contemporary Vietnamese folkloric performance was the appearance of the call-and-response dialogue song. It’s these kinds of songs have created a significant role in forming the Vietnamese culture values. Here I want to mention Ca tru singing. Singing Ca Tru means hearing the beautiful voice of lady singers and at the same time, enjoying the poem written for this style of singing.

Ca tru singing is good and especial because it’s a place where poetry and music meet together. People familiar with such ancient verse as luc bat (the six eight-syllable distich) and hat doi (singing tossed back and forth between groups of young men and women), and who are capable of sympathizing with the sentiments expressed in the sound of a small drum or a two-string viol, are more likely to fully enjoy a recital of ca tru.

History

Many people believed that the traditional Vietnamese folk art – Ca Tru began with religious origins. There was a story related to Ms. Dao Thi Hue in Hung Yen province who utilized her beauty and singing talent to seduce and kill the Ming enemies. People later built a temple called Dao Nuong to worship her.

Scholars trace its origins back to a type of female singing known as “hat a dao”, which was widely performed as an expression of worship during the Ly dynasty (1010-1225). As time goes by, it gradually became popular and eventually changed to alternative name, ca tru (singing for reward).

In order to be alive until now, Ca tru has to undergo a lot of ups and downs In 20th century, ca tru had become a common form of entertainment in the north with Kham Thien Street in Ha Noi as its main urban focus but after 1945, Ca tru nearly died out. It was systematically suppressed to be associated with the prostitution and the degradation of women. In actuality, men were allowed to marry many wives in the past and having extramarital affairs wasn’t a shocking matter. Thus, it was commonly known that many famous ca tru singers did indeed have affairs with important men but it was accepted as a part of society.

Witnessing to the importance and fame of Ca tru singing is that it was recognized as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2005. Ca tru singing is inscribed on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding on 1st October 2009.

Performance.

Like many ancient and highly developed arts, Ca tru has many forms but 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 a “phach” (small wooden sticks beaten on a small bamboo platform to serve as percussion). She is accompanied by a man who plays the “dan day”, a long-necked, 3-string lute used almost exclusively for the  Ca tru genre. Last is the spectator (often a scholar or connoisseur of the art) who strikes a “trong chau” (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 because it requires the singer to be lofty and elegant in gesture but no less sentimental while 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.

Now, Ca tru  is being restored and is more liked by the younger generation. Research scholars have traced the origins of Ca tru to areas of high culture, such as the ancient imperial capital of Thang Long (present-day Hanoi), Ha Tay, etc. Artists of great talent have practiced the art, including Quach Thi Ho, Thuong Huyen, Kim Dzung, etc. Some of them are now in their seventies, but a successor generation has blossomed and holds great promise. Many famous poets of past centuries were great amateurs of ca tru who wrote beautiful lines to go with its melodies. One well known instance is the poem singing the enchantment of a pilgrimage to Chua Huong (Perfume Pagoda) by Chu Manh Trinh. Coming from the lips of a ca tru singer, it has bewitched successive generations of pilgrims visiting the hills and streams of the famous pagoda complex in Ha Tay Province.
            There are now some famous Ca tru songs that are known by everyone 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. If you want to know more about this kind of folk songs, please add Vietnam visa for your luggage and come to Vietnam.

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