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MONday - 13/11/2023 21:07

Don Ca Tai Tu Band Don Ca Tai Tu Band

If North Viet Nam has “Vi Dam”, “Cheo”, and “Hue Royal Court music” then in South Viet Nam, especially in the Mekong Delta areas, There is no one who does not mention a unique type of folk song throughout the Six Provinces of the Southwest region it called the name “Don Ca Tai Tu” or another name English “Southern Amateur Music”.

Southern Amateur music was recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage on December, 5th 2013. Moreover, It currently operates widely in 21 provinces and cities in the southern Mekong Delta of our country, most notably Bac Lieu amateur music.

Don Ca Tai Tu old band
Don Ca Tai Tu old band

 Following the Southern path from the North and Central regions, our Vietnamese immigrants not only brought with them tools for production and daily life, but in each individual, we also brought with us special traditional cultural values. especially, from rituals and beliefs to forms, entertainment, arts, and folk culture...

Over many years of people settling down and establishing businesses, traditional forms of culture and arts have gradually been adapted, inherited, and developed into new values. On that foundation, a type of music was formed, whose sound transcends space and time, was widely accepted by the public, and became a widespread movement. That is Don Ca Tai Tu.

I. Original and History of Southern Amateur Music

             1.1. Original

- Southern amateur music is a Vietnamese traditional music genre that has formed and developed since the late 19th century (1885).

- It originates from ceremonial music and folk music and is a typical folk art form of the Southern region.

- It appeared more than 100 years ago, a type of performance with a band consisting of 4 types of pliers, stork, zither, and monochord (called quartet) accompanied by a pair of drums to beat the rhythm. Later there was an innovation by replacing the bass guitar with a concave feet guitar.

- Don Ca Tai Tu is the art of music and singing, sung by ordinary people, young men, and women in the Southern countryside after working hours.

- Most of the people participating in Don Ca Tai Tu are friends and neighbors. They gather together to share elegant pleasures, so they are often not picky about their attire. When performing at communal houses, temples, or on stage, they only wear performance costumes.

- The art of Southern Don Ca Tai Tu is a popular performing art form in the South of Vietnam, born at the end of the 19th century. Don Ca Tai Tu is the art of playing music and singing, performed by ordinary people. Southern people compose songs to sing and play after hours of hard work of people in the garden and river areas, with a hard-working, liberal, open, simple yet chivalrous and courageous lifestyle. The word "amateur" means a person who plays music with special talent and is good at ancient music. At first, there was only traditional music, then a form of singing appeared, so it was called traditional music.

    1.2. History

        From the amateur music genre, in 1910, in My Tho, Mr. Nguyen Tong Trieu (Tu Trieu) established a "ca ra bo" band named after himself: Tu Trieu "ca ra bo" band. This is a type of music - art that first appeared in Vietnam.

"Singing" means both singing and making gestures that match the lyrics, that is, singing combined with dance to express emotions.

Ban Ca Ra This set includes Tu Trieu (pliers), Chin Quan (domestic lute), Nam Diem (pipa lute), Bay Vo (cock lute), Muoi Ly (pepper player), Ms. Hai Nhieu - his son Tu Trieu (musician) and Ms. Ba Dac (singer).

The stage layout is quite simple, including a silver screen used as a backdrop; and a set of planks; A cross-legged table, topped with a basswood top, a fruit plate, and a flower vase, is placed in front of a set of planks, and a few ornamental pots are placed on both sides of the stage. The actors and musicians all wear ao dai; Only men have an additional turban.

When performing, all the musicians sit on a set of planks; and the singer stands next to it. This new performance style has conquered a large audience because of its freshness, vividness, and appeal. Therefore, the band was invited to perform in many places, especially in Saigon, and even in France.

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II. Who is the made to The First Song

Musician : Cao Van Lau
Musician : Cao Van Lau


- Cao Van Lau (other name Sau Lau), was born in 1892 in Xom Cai, Long An province (now Thuan My, Vam Co, Long An province).

- In 1912, he started singing with Sau Thin and Ms. Phan with the song Tu Great Grievances Bui Kiem failed the exam.

- In 1917, he composed another piece with 22 verses, following a theme proposed by teacher Nhac Khe, "Chinh Phu Vong Chinh Phu" (a theme taken from the Nam Ai version "To Hue Chuc Cam Hoi Van") But before he could fix it and report it to his teacher, he encountered heartbreaking adversity. His wife was three years old and still showed no signs of pregnancy. According to ancient custom, his parents forced him to return his wife to her parents' house.

- From 1918 to 1974, in addition to the version "Da Co Hoai Lang", which later developed into the version "Vong Co", partly changing the face of Cai Luong; Mr. Cao Van Lau also composed 10 more copies, but most of them were only circulated in Bac Lieu.

III. Instrument – a form performance made to song Music

- Because it originated from the royal court, ancient music was mainly performed in private homes or for a small audience. However, with the passage of time and the appeal of this music genre, today Don Ca has been staged to perform for the public.

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Instruments when performance " Southern Amateur Music" 
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(From left) Guitar, bottom lute, pipa, 3-stringed lute, dipper lute, stork lute, moon lute, zither

+ When performing amateur music, artists often focus on the combination of instruments with different timbres, rarely seeing the combination of instruments with the same timbre. Therefore, the musical instruments in "Don Ca Tai Tu" are very diverse, including the zither, the pipa, the pliers, the stork, the tam, and the flute, usually a seven-hole flute (accompanied). From around 1930, there were also concave key guitars, violins, and Hawaiian guitars. This type of instrument has recessed compartments so that when played, it sounds most like a Vietnamese musical instrument (high sound).

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+ Clothes: the people participating in Don ca Tai tu are mostly friends and neighbors, they usually only wear plain clothes when participating in performances. When performing at communal houses, temples, or on stage, they only wear performance costumes.

+ Perform: As a genre of music originating from the royal court, the way of performing Don Ca Tai Tu is quite special and requires the artist to have real talent and qualifications.

+  Artistic features: Southern amateur music includes music and songs. To create good, captivating folk music, there needs to be a smooth combination of both music and singing.



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