Hanoi expedites Ca Tru singing preservation hinh anh 1 Ca Tru singing (Source: VNA)
Cultural experts and Ca Tru (ceremonial singing) aficionados in Hanoi gathered at a talk held in the city on October 22, discussing measures to preserve this intangible cultural heritage.

Ca Tru, also known as Hat a dao, is an ancient type of music featuring female vocalists. It originated in northern Vietnam and was, like many traditional music genres, a form of entertainment for the royal court. 

Hanoi is now home to 14 ceremonial singing clubs who feature over 30 different musical forms of melodies and ancient dances while composing additional 18 melodies to perform for local residents and tourists.

In the past few years, the clubs have made significant contributions to preserving the art form by passing the old repertoire on to younger generations through free training classes. However, the teaching has been hampered because the youth are not passionate enough to pursue the art while the older artisans are suffering from failing health.

Human training is central to the development of Ca Tru, believed Tran Thi Hanh, a cultural official from Dong Anh district speaking at the talk, saying that the city needs to set up mechanisms and create preferential policies for the holders of the heritage.

According to the cultural researchers, since Ca Tru singing was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Protection in October 2009, Hanoi has taken initial steps to offer protection to the ceremonial singing.

PhD Le Thi Minh Ly, Director of the Centre for Cultural Heritage Research and Promotion, suggested that Hanoi should conduct a comprehensive evaluation of Ca Tru over the past six years to seek solutions to bring the art off the urgent protection list.

The city needs to build protection projects in the next two years, spread Ca Tru among the public, organise performances and push the heritage’s education, Ly highlighted.

She also said that in the long term, detailed and specific orientations and mechanisms should be set up to promote Ca Tru.

Ca Tru is a complex form of poetry using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese verse. Originally, it was a form of entertainment for the wealthy and was often performed for royalty. The various forms of Ca Tru fulfilled different social purposes, including worship singing, singing for entertainment, singing in royal palaces and competitive singing. 

This kind of singing is now practiced in 15 provinces and cities throughout Vietnam.-VNA