Ca tru is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms.
About Ca Tru singing
On 1/10/2009, ca tru was recognized as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity which needs urgent protection. This is the world’s cultural heritage with the greatest influence in Vietnam, there is scope to 15 provinces and cities in the north.
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
The performing art of this heritage 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 castanet is very sophisticated; the singer has to express her feelings and sentiments through the sound of castanet.