Vietnamese traditional music has been introduced to 27 students at Taiwan University of Arts by Pham Thi Hue, who is a player, singer, composer and educator of traditional musical instruments including dan bau (monochord) and dan day (four-chord lute with rectangular resonance box).

She is also the founder and owner of the Thang Long Ca Tru Theatre in Hanoi and has become a leading exponent in the revival of “ca tru” (ceremonial singing) throughout Vietnam .

During her three-week stay in Taiwan , she is helping prepare Taiwan artists for a performance of Vietnamese traditional music.

Since early this month, Hue has been teaching “nha nhac” ( Hue royal court music), “cheo” (popular drama), “ca Hue ” ( Hue traditional singing), and “cai luong” (renovated music).

The 40-year-old artist has also taught the art of playing the “ty ba” in the early traditional way.

In mainland China and Taiwan , the early way of playing “ty ba” (pipa in Chinese) has been lost. In the early 20th century, China changed the frets of the pipa to make it similar to the guitar, so it could be played more easily in an orchestra.

The Vietnam 's National Music Academy also modernised the “ty ba” and changed the playing technique.

About 20 years ago, Hue met researcher Bui Trong Hien who encouraged her to learn the traditional techniques of playing “ty ba” from artisans.

"At that time, I thought I might go to China to teach the technique of playing the old pipa that Chinese people had lost," Hue recalls. Twenty years later, her goal has been realised in Taiwan .

“Ty ba” was mainly used in royal court orchestras and is now rarely seen in popular musical bands.

Before going to Taiwan , Hue presented “ca tru” to 12 primary schools and high schools in Cleveland City , Ohio , for three months.

She was invited by the not-for-profit Young Audiences Association, which she got to know through Indonesian artist Jen Shyu, who had learned “ca tru” in Vietnam .

Every year, the association invites 12 outstanding artists from all over the world, working in different fields from stage to fine arts, to present the culture of their countries to students in Cleveland city.

She was the first Vietnamese person to take part in the project.

Hue began each class by presenting geographical and historical characteristics of Vietnam . She introduced “ca tru” and performed it.

"The Grade 4 pupils asked questions and watched the performance," Hue said.

"When I asked them if they found the music strange they said no, they could feel immediately its beauty.

"They are very open to new cultural art forms."

She also spent time working with high school students, most of whom had played at least one instrument or studied an art form.

They brought flute, drums or violins to class and perform with “dan day” and Hue taught them how to "feel" the music and play with the sounds.

During her stay in the US , Hue also founded a music band named Merging Clouds comprising herself, a Brazilian guitarist, who plays tabla (drums of India ) and an African singer and player of drums.

They practised with each other every week and composed new works with sudden inspiration, she said.

The band has begun to look for funds to support it in the US.-VNA