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Vietnam Traditional Music

Vietnam Traditional Music :Ca Tru, Cheo, Quan Ho, Hat Xam...

Ca Tru

Ca Tru music sounds strange to the uninitiated. Clicks and clacks accompany the centuries old ballads. It is not the kind of music that inspires toe tapping or humming. Ca tru flourished in the 15th century in northern Vietnam when it was popular with the royal palace and a favorite hobby of aristocrats and scholars. Later it was performed in communal houses, inns and private homes. These performances were mostly for men. When men entered a ca tru inn they purchased bamboo tally cards. In Chinese, tru means card. Ca means song in Vietnamese, hence the name ca tru: tally card songs. The tallies were given to the singers in appreciation for the performance. After the performance each singer received payment in proportion to the number of cards received.


Cheo Opera

Cheo is a form of popular theatre in Vietnam that has its roots in ancient village festivals.
It consists of folk songs with pantomime, intrumental music and dances, combined with instructive or interpretive sketches dealing with stories from legends, poetry, history or even daily life. Also brought into play are acrobatic scenes and magic. Cheo tells tales of chiefs, heroes and lovely maidens and offers an eclectic mix of romance, tragedy and comedy.
Traditionally Cheo was composed orally by anonymous authors. Today's playwrights compose cheo operas along traditional lines : the characters in the plays sing time-tested popular melodies with words suited to modern circumstances.



Quan Ho

The folk-song Quan Ho, a very rich and beautiful musical storehouse of our people, has a very long lasting history. During all its existence, successive creations have unceasingly changed the type of the folk-song Quan Ho.Today, there are "Quan Ho dai", "New Quan Ho", "the renovated Quan Ho". This shows that there may be some kinds of Quan Ho that are not real Quan Ho. Thus, from what epoch has the tradition of Quan Ho dated?One of the old polular tales narrates as follows: Once upon a time, Lung Giang village (Liem village) and Tam Son village (Tu Son), both in Bac Ninh province, were in very good relations. Every year, on the 13th of the first lunar month, Tam Son village held a singing party at the communal house and invited five or six elderly men and five or six elderly women together with a great number of young singers of Lung Giang to come to join them. At the festival came into being a form of dialogue. Alternately, each time the young man of one of the villages had sung, the girls from the other village would reply in singing. Such singing competitions lasted all night until the morning of the following day. However, it's asserted that only under the Ly dynasty (1009-1225) did the folk-song Quan Ho begin to develop strongly and become joyful festivals lasting as much as half a month.


Hat Xam

Hat Xam, or the song of the blind artists, has existed since the Tran dynasty (13th century).Tran Quoc Dinh, a son of King Tran Thanh Tong was the father of the special performance. In a complex situation, his brother, in a fit of jealousy against the talents of Dinh, pierced his eyes, rendering him blind for the remaining of his life. Dinh loved singing very much, and in order to accompany his songs, he invented a simple musical instrument constituted principally of a cord made of rattan and other creepers which gave out a deep and sorrowful sound, alike to a reproach accompanying his singing voice.The beauty of the "Xam" song is expressed in the rhythms and tones of the music. Its attractive and lively drum rhythms and numerous rules of song applications make it an interesting spectacle. The "Xam" song tells of the fate or unhappiness of the poor. Besides theses common themes, there are funny songs with satirical implications about wrong doings, the condemnation of outdated customs, the crimes of rulers, and the deeds of heroes. These stories are well loved by many people.


 
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