The Mekong delta province of Tra Vinh launched a “don ca tai tu” (amateur singing) festival for local people on December 23-24 to honour the art, which was recognised as a piece of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

As many as 70 amateur singers and instrumentalists from rural areas across the province took 54 pieces of Don ca tai tu’s music and songs onto the stage.

Tra Vinh’s people have fondly performed Don ca tai tu since the late 19th century and are working together to preserve the art with 57 clubs scattering across the locality with members numbering 1,000.

Following this festival, the provincial department of culture, sports and tourism plans to organise the event annually to spread the value of the art far and wide.

Known as a musical art that has both scholarly and folk roots, Don ca tai tu (amateur singing) developed in southern Vietnam in the late 19th century. The impromptu art honours the creativeness and artistry of the performers.

UNESCO recognised the art as an intangible cultural heritage on December 5, during the on-going 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The art is performed at numerous events, such as festivals, ‘death anniversary' rituals, and celebratory social events. The audience can join in, by practicing, making comments or creating new words for songs.

It has been transmitted from generation to generation through official and unofficial forms of education in all 21 provinces, where the art form is popular. Don ca tai tu has continually been popularised through cultural exchanges among peoples, presenting their mutual harmony and respect.

The art form is played on a variety of different instruments, including the kim (moon-shaped lute), co (two-stringed fiddle), tranh (16-string zither), ty ba (pear-shaped lute), song lang (percussion), bau (monochord) and sao (bamboo flute), and the violin and guitar, which were adapted.

The musicians who contribute to Don ca tai tu include master instrumentalists, master lyricists, master singers, instrumentalists, and singers.

Influenced by other forms of cultural heritage from the central and southern regions of Vietnam, such as nhac le (ceremonial music) and hat boi (classical theatre and folk song), the music genre was added to the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2012.-VNA