Roehampton University
AHRB - Arts and Humanities Research Board

Ca Tru: vocal music from northern vietnam

Featuring performances by the Hanoi Ca Tru Thai Ha Ensemble.

Ca tru is a fascinating type of vocal music from northern Vietnam. Ca tru has a long and distinguished history, and its roots probably date back to the sixteenth century. Today, the ca tru ensemble consists of a female singer who accompanies herself on a small bamboo percussion instrument (phach); an instrumentalist who plays a three-stringed lute (dan day); and a drummer who beats a small 'praise' drum (trong chau).

The best performers of ca tru today are the Hanoi Ca Tru Thai Ha Ensemble. This ensemble is made up of the singers Nguyen Thuy Hoa and Thanh Hoai, the lute player Nguyen Manh Tien and the drummer Nguyen Van Mui.

Nine video examples of the Hanoi Ca Tru Thai Ha Ensemble can be downloaded from this website and viewed using Windows Media Player. The video examples include a full performance of the piece Bac Phan (Example 1) and eight short instrumental phrases (Example 2-9). Nguyen Thuy Hoa is the singer featured on the video examples. The performance of Bac Phan has been transcribed by Barley Norton. The transcription of Bac Phan can be seen on this website by clicking here.

This website accompanies a forthcoming journal article on ca tru by Barley Norton. Please contact for further details. The research for the article was made possible through a small grant awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

© The Hanoi Ca Tru Thai Ha Ensemble and Barley Norton.
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