A school of Ca Tru (ceremonial singing) made its debut in Hanoi on March 18, helping preserve humanity’s intangible cultural heritage.
The Thang Long Ca Tru school is developed from the Thang Long Ca Tru club founded in August, 2006.
Among artists, researchers, musicians and audiences at the debut ceremony were Prof Tran Van Khe, who have made active contributions to promoting Ca Tru abroad, and music researcher Dang Hoanh Loan, who involved in developing documents on the ceremonial songs to submit for UNESCO’s recognition as the world cultural heritage in 2009.
Prof. Tran Van Khe described the establishment of the Thang Long Ca Tru school as an effort in making the art prosper and reviving a type of traditional art activity in former Thang Long.
Ca Tru (ceremonial singing) was listed as a cultural heritage in need of urgent protection by UNESCO at the fourth session of UNESCO inter-governmental committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage in Abu Dhabi September 30, 2009.
‘Ca Tru’, also known as “hat a dao” or “hat noi ” (ceremonial singing) which dates back to the 15th century, has also been listed among 12 intangible global cultural heritage traditions in danger of disappearing.
Ca Tru, like many old 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, a lute player and a spectator (who also takes part in the performance).
The female singer provides the vocals whilst playing her “phach” (small wooden sticks beaten on a small bamboo box to serve as percussion). She is accompanied by a man who plays the “dan day”, a long-necked, three-string lute used almost exclusively for the “ca tru” genre.
Last is the spectator (often a scholar or reconnoiter 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 provides commentary on the performance, but he always does it according to the beat provided by the vocalist’s “phach” percussion.