Songstress Nguyen Thi Chuc, a widely acclaimed Ca tru (ceremonial singing) singer, died on April 7 in Hanoi due to old age and serious illness.

Chuc was born in 1930 in Hanoi. She started performing Ca tru at the age of 12 along with the members in her family and was well-known for her talent by the age of 18.

In the 1980s, she not only taught Ca tru at her native village, but also at the Vietnam National Academy of Music in efforts to preserve the traditional art form. She was bestowed the Folk Artist title by the State in 2005.

She was considered as a living treasure of Ca tru, who hard in-depth knowledge of many melodies of Ca tru and had mastered different singing techniques, remarked To Ngoc Thanh, President of the Vietnam Folk Arts and Literature Association.

Ca tru, also known as Hat a dao, is an ancient type of music featuring female vocalists. It is a complex form of poetry found in the north of Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms.

Ca tru groups comprise of three performers: a female singer who uses breathing techniques and vibrations to create unique sounds while playing the clappers or striking a wooden box, and two instrumentalists who produce the deep tones of a three-stringed lute and the strong sounds of a ceremonial drum.

Ca tru singing appeared in the north around the 15th century and thrived until the early 20th century. Since then, it has lost popularity to imports of modern recreational forms and cultural activities.

Ca tru was recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in October 2009.-VNA