Don ca tai tu (music of the talented) should be recognised as an intangible heritage of the country to curb the impact of Western music's influence on indigenous musical forms, according to international scholars at a conference on preservation of the art form.

Speaking at the three-day event in HCM City , Professor Sheen Dae-cheol of  the Republic of Korea  (RoK) said Don ca tai tu, which began 100 years ago, holds an important position in Vietnam.

The history of Don ca tai tu is similar to Gagok of the RoK and Nanyin of China, both of which began as amateur music and developed into more sophisticated forms.

Don ca tai tu, however, has retained its original characteristics.

Because it does not require a stage, it quickly became popular in every corner of society and could be performed under a tree, in a house, on a boat, or under the moonlight.

The Korean professor said he was impressed with the musical instruments. Some of them have only one, two or three strings, such as the monochord, two-chord fiddle and the three-string fretless box spike lute.

"The feeling and soul of the Vietnamese people are embedded in tai tu music. The music, which is an invaluable heritage, applies the yin-yang theory of the East," he said.

"The value of gender equality is also mentioned in Don ca tai tu. Since it began, it has always been performed with the participation of both men and women. Everyone considers Don ca tai tu amateur music, but it is not amateur at all. It is noble amateur music. It deserves to be considered as a world cultural heritage," he added.

Dr Joe Peters of Singapore , who noted that Don ca tai tu was important to the Vietnamese people's life, said that video and audio clips on the art form could be found on the internet.

Prof Yamaguti Osamu of Taiwan 's Nanhua University said improvisational music like Don ca tai tu appears in other countries, including India and, especially, Africa .

The music is transmitted orally and has no printed musical notation.

More recordings of the music must be done so that documents can be submitted to UNESCO and the art form can be approved and recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of the world.

Gisa Jaehnichen, a professor in the music department at University Putra Malaysia , praised the charm of Don ca tai tu and the instruments used in performance.

The music is traditionally played in informal venues, often in a close friend's home or in a neighbour's garden.

Its standard orchestra includes a dan tranh (16-string zither), a dan kim (two-chord guitar), a dan co (two-chord fiddle), a ty ba (pear-shaped, four-chord guitar), a doc huyen (monochord zither) and a flute.
Professor Tran Van Khe, musician Nguyen Vinh Bao, who are experts in Vietnamese traditional music, and other local artists said they were highly impressed about the knowledge of the foreign experts who spoke about Don ca tai tu at the conference.

Experts said that performing the music on a big stage or during tourism festivals, which has been done in recent years, was not true to its original nature./.