02/10/2009 | 16:18:00

Ca Tru added to Heritage List

Ca Tru (ceremonial singing) has been listed as a cultural heritage in need of urgent protection by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The decision was announced on September 30 at the fourth session of UNESCO inter-governmental committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage in Abu Dhabi.

‘Ca Tru’, also known as “hat a dao” or “hat noi” (ceremonial singing) which dates back to the 15 th 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 connoiseur 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.

Nha Nhac (Hue Royal Court Music) and the space of Gong culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam were recognised as the Master-pieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003 and 2005, respectively./.

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