Vietnam Traditional Music - Quintessence of Nation

July 12, 2023 - 5403 views

Vietnam Traditional music is “Quintessence of Nation”. Traditional music that we own was a crystallization of creative art, has been maintained over many generations. It also is a lively illustration of national character.

Music is considered to be an essential need in spiritual life of Vietnamese people. Music is used to open your heart, to encourage themselves whereas operating and fighting, to teach their kids studious tradition and national sentiment, to  communicate with people on the other side of the world, and to sublimate their aspirations for a contented life. Because music plays an important role, numerous musical instruments and genres have been developed to serve people’s life. Nowadays, traditional music still has place in society. Some of them exist in people life; some of them are performed on the stage and recognized as intangible culture heritage. In this article, I am pleased to introduce to you two of the most typical traditional music in Vietnam.

1. Quintessence of Nation "Ca Tru"

Ca Tru appeared in 11th century but it was officially recognized as a form of entertainment for the royal court till the 13th century during Ly Dynasty. It is also called hat Ả Đào, hat Nhà Tơ, hat Cửa Quyền, hat Cô Đầu but the name Ca Tru and Ả Đào are most popular. There is one story about Ca Trù's beginnings, It is said that a woman named Đào Thị, a talented musician who was a favorite of the Ly Dynasty imperial court, created the genre. That is explained one of the genre's alternate names: Hát ả Đào or Ả Đào singing.

This art attracts people by its unique vocal methods is hát ngậm - a vocal method that allows singer to close their mouth while singing but still involves vocal articulation. Another unique feature of Ca tru is its lyrics are poems, and could fit any type of poem, long or short. That is reason why Ca Tru requires the audience’s comprehensive knowledge of Vietnamese history, poetry, literature and music.

There are three performers on Ca Tru stage; they are female vocalist, a lute player and a spectator (who also takes part in the performance). Sometimes dance is also performed at the same time. The singer or Dao Nuong is person who expresses lyrics of Ca Tru. It is not easy to become Dao Nương, the artist need to have a deeply love, a suffering or even fate with Ca Tru. While singing , Dao Nuong have to play Phach - two wooden sticks beaten together on a small bamboo bar, which serves as the percussion. Other person is a man who plays the Đàn Đáy – an instrument musical that provide deep, and mysterious sound. The final participant is the spectator who strikes a trống chầu, or praise drum.

Ca tru has become more well-known since it was recognized as one of the items of world intangible cultural heritage. Many foreigners are attracted to the unique rhythms and singing method of Ca tru.

Ca Tru - Vietnam Traditional Music

Ca Tru Performance

2. Quintessence of Nation "Cheo"

Cheo is believed to have originated in the 11th century that has been developed in ancient villages in the Red River delta. Describing the simple life of farmers or the aspiration about peace life between unfair feudalism is the character of Cheo. Some of the works express the hard life of women who sacrificed their lives for her husband or children.

In Cheo, good always wins evil; the hard work student passes the exam and becomes mandarins; the good wife reunited with husband. The content of Cheo is based on a folktale. These stories are performed by folk songs with pantomime, instrumental music, and dances, combined with instructive or interpretative sketches. The sound of the Cheo drum has a magical power, It informs all villagers to come to see the play. One of character seems to be a supporting role is the clown, but actually, he or she is very important to the performance. The clowns present a comic portrayal of social life, with ridiculous, sarcastic words and gestures, they bring the audience different feelings from laughs to tears.

Nowadays, Cheo still attracts and becomes the spiritual dish of Vietnamese people.

Cheo - Vietnam Traditional Music

Cheo Performance

In some words, I cannot describe all the beauty or meaning in Cheo or Ca Tru. But I do hope my article gives you an overview of them. Vietnam traditional music is so various and I just gave you two in many types of traditional music. If you are a person who deeply loves music, who interested in traditional music, who wants to enjoy and feel it why don't you choose Vietnam as your next destination for your journey?

You may also like: Vietnamese Architecture - Reflecting One Part of Vietnamese Culture


Image Sources: Internet

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