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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Don Ca Tai Tu (Amateur Music Performance)

Don Ca Tai Tu (Amateur Music performance), a genre of art is offered as a welcoming gift for most travelers to the Mekong Delta. Don ca tai tu came into being in the late 19th century and early 20th century in the South of Vietnam. Composers and royal musicians of the Nguyen dynasty as following phong trao Can Vuong (Royalist Movement) into the South brought Ca Hue (Hue traditional singing) on them. On their southward way, they stopped at Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Quang Nam provinces, from that time on, Hue’s singing and sound of musical instruments had mingled with some flavour of the Quang land. However, as soon as getting into the south, the sound of musical instruments of the central region had been undergone considerable alteration, even several songs of similar names quite differed in melody. The southerners’ liberal disposition and way of life have made Hue traditional songs non-identical to their former original ones. 

Musical instrument players and singers both did not want to follow what they were taught by Hue – originated composers but always made some embellishment, adding a bit of their own creativeness, making the songs more charming and meaningful. On the other hand, for composers always longed for their homeland, the tunes and singing of don ca tai tu all sound vaguely blue. 

The fact that who invented the southern amateur music performance remains controversial. However, several studies have traced back to royal musician Nguyen Quang Dai (also known as Da Doi in the south) who was considered as the grandfather boasting a number of disciples well-known in this form of art. Then in the year of 1919, the song titled “Da Co Hoai Lang” (awaiting one’s husband) is seen as the precursor of modern Vong co (a song or more appropriately a cycle of patterns, performed in cai luong (renovated theater). It is the key among 20 original pieces of amateur music performance composed by talented musician Cao Van Lau in his home province of Bac Lieu (1919). These traditional songs have spread over the south and now become popular throughout the country which promoted don ca tai tu to a higher level. By the most flourishing time, amid the people’s increasing demand for art enjoyment, the southern don ca tai tu is seen as the groundwork for creating a new art genre that had been quickly taken shape and won the hearts of the folks in the south in specific and over the country in general. That is the theatrical art form called cai luong (reformed drama). Other genres of art normally tend to fade or to be splited into different forms after they reach their peak and especially there is a substitute. Meanwhile, the southern don ca tai tu is quite different. It has deliberately existed along the development of cai luong. Moreover, don ca tai tu itself has undergone incessant development and helped to enrich the theatrical art form of cai luong as well.

It is just its high adaptability as well as such a both scholarly and popular nature that make don ca tai tu always present in the southerners’ life and in non-stop development. The fact that Can Tho university has received a vast number of American and European students who came to learn the southern don ca tai tu and vong co proves the attraction of this musical genre. 

Once come here, please stay here! The following are excerpts of the two well-known songs of don ca tai tu. 

Dạ cổ hoài lang (tiền thân của vọng cổ ngày nay) – sáng tác: Cao Văn Lầu

Từ là từ phu tướng, 
Bảo kiếm sắc phong lên đàng. 
Vào ra luống trông tin chàng. 
Năm canh mơ màng. 
Em luống trông tin chàng, 
Ôi gan vàng quặn đau. 
Đường dù xa ong bướm, 
Xin đó đừng phụ nghĩa tào khang. 
Đêm luống trông tin chàng, 
Ngày mỏi mòn như đá Vọng phu. 
Vọng phu vọng luống trông tin chàng. 
Sao nỡ phũ phàng… 
Chàng là chàng có hay? 
Đêm thiếp nằm luống những sầu tây. 
Bao thuở đó đây sum vầy, 
Duyên sắc cầm lạt phai. 
Là nguyện cho chàng 
Hai chữ an bình an. 
Mau trở lại gia đàng, 
Cho én nhạn hiệp đôi. 



Tình anh bán chiếu – sáng tác: Cố soạn giả Viễn Châu 

Hò ơ… chiếu Cà Mau nhuộm màu tươi thắm 
Công tôi cực lắm mưa nắng dãi dầu 
Chiếu này tôi chẳng bán đâu 
Tìm cô không gặp 
Hò ơ… tìm cô không gặp, tôi gối đầu mỗi đêm 
Vọng cổ 
1. Ghe chiếu Cà Mau đã cắm sào bên bờ kinh Ngã Bảy, sao cô gái năm xưa chẳng thấy ra… chào. Cửa vườn cô đã khóa kín tự hôm nào. Tôi vác đôi chiếu bông từ dưới ghe lên xóm rẫy, chiếc sáo nhuộm bùn đã lấm tấm giọt mồ hôi. Nhà của cô sau trước – vắng tanh trong gió lạnh buổi chiều đông, bỗng có ai dạo lên tiếng nguyệt cầm như gieo vào lòng tôi một nỗi buồn thê thảm. 

2. Cô đã đặt đôi chiếu bông bề dài hai thước, có lẽ để điểm tô ở chốn loan phòng. Nhưng rồi hôm nay, cô đã quên tôi để cất bước theo chồng. Cô ơi! Đôi chiếu này tự tay tôi dệt lấy, tôi đã lựa từng cọng lác sợi gai. Nhưng khi tôi đến nơi thì cô đã rời bỏ quê nhà sang xứ khác, tôi đứng trước cổng vườn xưa với nỗi buồn man mác, còn đôi chiếu này tôi biết tặng cho ai? 


(Mekong Delta Tourism Guidbook – VCCI Can Tho – www.vccimekong.com.vn)