MMM! Here we are soaking up the sights and sounds that surround an old Vietnamese musical form called Ca Tru. Ca means “singing” and Tru means “stick.” Ca Tru means ‘singing for sticks’…bamboo sticks to be precise–this refers to the tradition of audience members throwing bamboo sticks into a tin can as a demonstration of their approval and encouragement for the singers to reach higher and higher with their artful vocalizing. Hit a beautiful note. . .”claaanngg!!”–this means we like it. . .too fun!
These refined and elegant women–Ca Tru singers–used to play long guitar-like instruments, rhythmic sticks, and drums to entertain wealthy folks hundreds of years ago. Ca Tru music and singing also used to be the background music for folks smoking opium in the old opium dens of the past. All of this means that the people and activities surrounding Ca Tru took on a somewhat immoral tinge that more conservative folks wanted to erradicate. . .so for many years Ca Tru was shunned and disappeared into the shadows of society. Now there is a wonderful theater, the Thang Long Ca Tru Theater, in the heart of the Old Quarter on Hang Buom Street here in Ha Noi where we can see and hear performers who are doing their best to keep the Ca Tru tradition alive–in a morally acceptable atmosphere, damn:-) The performance includes old traditional songs, narration about the history or Ca Tru, newer songs, and opportunities for gringos like me to interact with the performers, hold their instruments, ask questions, and pose for pix.
Ca Tru music is fascinating and these performers are totally cool. . .I strongly recommend a visit here if you ever find yourself wandering around in the Old Quarter of Ha Noi lookin’ for somethin’ edifying to do. Plus, Google “Ca Tru” to learn more. . .there is a lot to read about regarding this wonderful musical form.
I send you deep and intriguing vibes from the Ca Tru Theater of Ha Noi. . .feel them. . .they are a doorway to another time and another way of life.
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It’s lovely out there.