Ca Trù - an original art performance of academic character - has been preserved for the past 10 centuries.
Ca Trù appeared officially under Lý Dynasty (11th century). Originally, Ca Tru was like cheo, singing and served at ceremonies and festivals in the northern delta. When these ceremonies and festivals were no longer held, Ca Tru became a type of chamber music serving as intellectual food for those who would like to enjoy music and poetry. Under the French domination, Ca Tru declined. Nowadays, it is restored as a typeof original popular art.
Music and poetry are the basis of Ca Tru and decide which ensemble of principal instruments, musicians and subordinate instruments should provide the accompaniment. Ca Tru has many melodies that are sung differently, but the chief is singing-reciting : A singer and a musician playing a long-necked lute-like instrument. Also taking part is a member of the audience who expresses his appreciation and response by beating a drum.
To perform as expected, the singer must practise very hard and know many tunes. A male musician accompanies the singer. He too practises hard so as to be in perfect harmony with the singer. The music accompaniment consists of a "phách" - a bamboo instrument beaten with two wooden sticks - and "trống chầu" - a drum beaten by a member of the audience in appreciation or comment. Of course, this member of the audience is very experienced at beating the drum - a single beat, three or five successive beats and nine beats at the climax to be "in tune" with the lute. A timely response by the drummer encourages the singer who knows that she has met someone who both understands and appreciates her talent. These three instruments: The lute, the "phách" and the "trống chầu" are inseparable. Being a subordinate instrument, the drum is essential as a bridge between the performer and audience.