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Thuong Mo commune preserves ceremonial singing

“Thuong Mo commune preserves ceremonial singing”, a program in English from The Voice of Vietnam (VOV), is ready to download on AMX.

“Ca tru” (ceremonial singing), also known as “hat a dao”, is an ancient genre of music featuring female vocalists. It originated in northern Vietnam and was, like many traditional music genres, a form of entertainment for the royal court. Hundreds of years ago, Dai Phu village in Thuong Mo commune, Dan Phuong district, Hanoi, was a cradle of ca tru singing. During long years of war, the genre faded, but in the last 20 years, local authorities and residents have worked to restore and preserve “ca tru” singing by opening a club and organizing free classes to teach “ca tru” to people of all ages.

About the program

According to historical records, under the Le dynasty in the 17th century, the Nguyen Duy clan in Dai Phu village included a talented, gentle, and beautiful woman named Nguyen Thi Hong. She was good at poetry, playing musical instruments, and ca tru singing. She taught the folk art to 12 families in the area and was dubbed “The lady of ca tru singing”. One day, King Le Hy Tong was traveling through Thuong Mo commune and heard her singing. He brought her back with him to his palace and made her a second-level concubine in charge of teaching ceremonial music in the palace. When she died, the king organized a funeral for her in her home village. In memory of her merit, the villagers built a temple to honor her and preserved “ca tru” singing as a precious heritage.

Nguyen Thi Tam, 67-year-old, is a member of the Nguyen Duy clan, the same clan as “the lady of ca tru singing”.

In 2000, Thuong Mo commune founded a ca tru singing club and made Nguyen Thi Tam its vice president. In the early days, the club encountered difficulties. Now the club has 30 members of various ages. For the last 18 years, the club has held a practice session every Saturday and Sunday at Dam Gieng temple, built to honor “the lady of ca tru singing”.

Tam teaches 6 classes to sing and play the drum and other percussion. Over the years, more than 30 students who have learned ca tru singing from Tam have become singers with various clubs nationwide. Tam conducts a weekend class for children.

For all her contributions to ca tru singing, Vietnam’s President awarded Tam the title “Meritorious Artist” in 2017.

In Thuong Mo commune today, people of all ages, share an affection for the profoundly philosophical lyrics of ca tru singing. In some families, like Nguyen Thi Hai Yen’s family, three or four people have joined the ca tru club. Whenever they have free time, they rehearse the songs together.