Ca Tru Singing Hanoi – Quintessence of Hanoi

It is said that one of the fastest and best way to understand and get closer into the local way of life is music. Travelling to the ancient capital of Vietnam gives you the ample chance to admire the authentic and enticing traditional folk song – ca tru singing Hanoi. Have you ever heard of that? Keep on exploring!

Ca tru singing hanoi
Ca tru singing – Photo from phunuvietnam

1. Ca Tru singing Hanoi at glance:

Origin of ca tru singing Hanoi:

Ca tru which literally means tally card song is such a special type of music in Vietnam. Its name varies in each province in Vietnam like: a dao singing, cua dinh singing, cua quyen singing, co dau singing, nha to, nha tro or ca cong singing, depending on where ca tru is performed.

Lo Khe Village's Temple - ca tru singing hanoi
Lo Khe Village’s Temple – said to be the homeland of ca tru – Photo from VOV5

Ca tru singing is originated from the folk song connected with several folk song games and folk shows. Thus, ca tru singing is considered as an exclusive synthesis art combining various, sophisticated and harmonious features of poetry, music and sometimes dancing.

Ca tru singing Hanoi appeared in the 11th century and was popularized nationwide from 15th century. It was not until the 20th century, ca tru singing was widely well-known thanks to the voice of singer Quach Thi Ho. Going through many ups and downs in the history, ca tru singing nowadays is still preserved as a high-level traditional folk song in terms of aesthetics. In 2009, ca tru singing was claimed as one of the World’s Intangible Heritage by UNESCO.

Vocalist Quach Thi Ho
Vocalist Quach Thi Ho – the one in the middle – Internet photo

Currently, there are 63 ca tru singing clubs in 14 provinces in Vietnam. When visiting the capital, remember to take this great chance to admire the art singing in your Hanoi one day tour.

2. About the singers and musical instrument players:

A band of ca tru singing has three people: a female vocalist (often called as “dao” or “ca nuong” in Vietnamese), a male instrumentalist and a male musician (called “kep” and “quan vien” in Vietnamese respectively). They all wear Vietnamese traditional “ao dai” during the performance. The female singer sits in the middle, sings the song of the musician and plays castanets of the beat. This instrument is called “phach” which includes two wooden sticks beaten together on a small bamboo bar. People say that it takes 6 months to learn phach.

A ca tru band
A ca tru band – Internet photo

The male instrumentalist supports her with playing “dan day”. The musician (normally the composer of the song) sits together and beats “chau” drum to show his feeling about the performance. More interestingly, if the musician beats “chau” drum one, meaning he’s complimenting on the performance. If he beats the drum twice, it means disapproval. So how about you? Will you give a thumb-up for this performance?

Nostalgic Tay Ho (Tay Ho hoai co) – Video from Bui Quang Tuan

3. Ca tru singing techniques:

A beginner normally needs to spend from 3-10 years to master both the vocal and the phach techniques. The female singer has to utilize the breathing techniques and vibrato to create such unique sounds while playing phach.

It can be seen that the most difficult part of ca tru singing is to learn how to sing and play phach at the same time. Playing phach is considered the backbone of the singer. The singer can mimic some tunes of ca tru but they can’t fake of using phach.

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4. Where to enjoy the best ca tru singing Hanoi?

If you’re in the capital – Hanoi and wish to enjoy the enticing ca tru singing Hanoi, head to one of the addresses below to satisfy your wish:

Ca Tru Thang Long Theater
Ca Tru Thang Long Theater – Internet photo

Ca Tru Thang Long Theater:

  • Address: 28 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Admission fee: US$ 10
  • Opening hours: 8:00 PM on Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat and Sun
Ca Tru Hanoi Club
Ca Tru Hanoi Club – Facebook photo

Ca Tru Hanoi Club:

  • Address: 42 Hang Bac Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Admission fee: US$ 6
  • Opening hours: 8:00 – 9:00 PM on Wed, Fri and Sun

Besides ca tru singing Hanoi, Vietnam also owns another world famous Vietnam Water Puppet show. Wanna learn more about this?

Find the answer for Where To Enjoy Best Vietnam Water Puppet Show with us!

The 1,000 year-old Hanoi Capital bears hundreds of captivating things, well showcasing for its rich culture and fascinating history. The more you stay here, the more you’ll fall in love with the beautiful capital. Find out the hidden charming sight of Hanoi by joining Hanoi cooking class.

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