There is a surprise for anyone who comes to southwestern Vietnam where the tributaries of the hectic Mekong River highway provide a comprehensive network of canals and channels. They are surely more impressed by the fact that there is something truly connecting all those canals’ souls. The myth here is Don ca tai tu (Đờn ca tài tử) folk music in South Vietnam.
Don ca tai tu, along with Ca trù and Cồng chiêng Tây Nguyên, are three Vietnamese music folk types recognized by UNESCO as The World Intangible Cultural Heritage. Don ca tai tu is one of a few traditional music types which has maintained till today and broaden to a large area. It arose in South Vietnam at the end of the 19th century and now has expanded to all 21 Southern provinces, including 13 provinces of Mekong River Delta region. Read more: tours in Vietnam
Don ca tai tu was a combination of the ritual music nhạc lễ of southern Vietnam and the chamber music nhạc Huế of central Vietnam. Its name means litterally “music and song of the amateurs” and shows that it is a musical entertainment for scholars and music lovers at all levels of society.
The attractive feature of this music type lies in its bond of rural life and simplicity. It does not require an elaborated stage, or even a formal theatre but anywhere, any conditions and any circumstances. That partly explains why this old music genre can easily win the heart of far-distanced guests.
Singers (locally named ‘ca nương’ or ‘tài tử’) can be anyone, whether he is a white-collar or blue-collar worker, a local official or a farmer, etc. They move audiences with their heartfelt songs about daily life. More interestingly, different singers have different ways to sing one song. They bring their own thoughts, feelings and tone of voice into the original song when performing, which makes each song more looks like a story. It is the way ‘Don ca tai tu’ has developed in history.
Tourists can enjoy this music genre when travelling on canals throughout southwestern region. In near future, Don ca tai tu will be formally performed in specific theatres, helping tourists to enjoy it in full senses.
The Indochina Voyages team.
- Southern Vietnam with extension to Cambodia 10 days
- Mekong Off the beaten Path with extension to Cambodia 12 days
- Mekong Delta with extension to Cambodia 7 days