Musicians from all around the world will participate in an international workshop on don ca tai tu music of amateurs, the traditional folk music of the south in Ho Chi Minh City on January 8-11.
The workshop is a significant step forward in the recognition of Vietnamese folk music by UNESCO's World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the workshop will focus on the art of don ca tai tu and similar impromptu musical styles from around the world. Participants will include UNESCO representatives, and specialists in music and culture, said Le Van Toan, director of Vietnam National Academy of Music.
The ministry is creating a dossier about don ca tai tu for submission to UNESCO in March 2011. Recognition as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity will save the musical form from becoming another lost art, and will help in promoting and preserving cultural diversity in Vietnam.
Dating back to the royal court music from Hue more than 100 years ago, don ca tai tu is a group of artists who sing and play traditional musical instruments like dan nhi or dan co (Vietnamese two-chord fiddle), dan tranh (zither), song lang (two pieces of bamboo used to hit one another to pursue the rhythms), doc huyen cam (monochord), and dan nguyet (Vietnamese two chord guitar).
Unlike ca tru and ca hue singing (traditional music of north and central Vietnam) which are women-dominated arts, don ca tai tu includes male and female singers and musicians. It is performed under the shade of trees, in boats on moonlit nights, in parties, on festivals, and to celebrate the post-harvest bounty.
Though the word tai tu means "˜amateurs', it also implies talent. Though these artists don't make music their livelihood, they dedicate years to practice and perfection and are truly amazing artists.
Last week, the Giong Festival was recognized as UNESCO's World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, making it Vietnam's fourth World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The other three are nha nhac cung dinh Hue (Hue's royal court music), Gong Culture from Central Highlands, and quan ho Bac Ninh (Bac Ninh love duets).