Ca Tru traditional music performance, Hanoi - review by Rusty Compass
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Ca Tru traditional music performance, Hanoi

| 12 Sep 2013


Ca Tru traditional music performance, Hanoi
42 Hang Bac St Hoan Kiem District Hanoi
Wednesday Friday and Sunday 8pm

Our rating
12 Sep 2013

Ca Tru is an ancient northern Vietnamese vocal music tradition performed Tuesday to Sunday nights in one of two old quarter venues in Hanoi.

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At first listening, Vietnam's traditional music forms can stretch the less agile tonal repertoire of the average western ear. Ca tru's vocal gymnastics can be an especially challenging experience. But if you enjoy exploring world music and traditional music, don't miss a performance of ca tru.
Ca tru is native to Vietnam's north and dates back more than 1000 years to the Ly dynasty. It was especially popular with the royal court and feudal elites and has been passed down through the centuries orally.

There are thought be less than 100 ca tru melodies in existence and the art is considered an endangered "intangible cultural heritage" by UNESCO.

Hanoi Ca Tru Club gathers in a traditional house each Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evening for an hour long performance that includes ca tru as well as some other indigenous singing and instrumentation. There's also a short but interesting presentation on the musical styles and the instruments used.

Most nights feature singer Bach Van, one of the finest exponents of the ca tru singing style. She's also the host and explains that ca tru is an endangered musical form as few young people are ready to undertake the rigorous decade of vocal training required to master it.

It's an intimate, atmospheric evening in a traditional Vietnamese house.

Another Ca Tru venue is located nearby at 87 Ma May St in the old quarter. Performances are held here at 8pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The Ma May St venue is closer to traffic and therefore noisier which is a shame.

Based on our recent visits the Hanoi Ca Tru Club performance was better but they're both worthwhile and deserving of support.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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