Xam - A Tale of Vietnamese Folk Music
Xam is known in Viet Nam (1) _______ folk music usually performed by blind street singers (2) _______ their living. As it originated from the working class and poor people, Xam has become an intellectual part of the folks’ cultural life. Its most distinctive (3) _______ lie in the simplicity and popularity of its lyrics which often tell daily-life stories, satirizing and criticizing severely the social evils while highly praising education and humanitarian (4) _______.
Therefore, Xam doesn’t care so much about (5) _______ and stages like other types of traditional arts. Xam singing can be performed (6) _______, on any street or comer where large numbers of people pass. It is so simple that anyone can sing some verses to express their inner (7) _______ on life.
After a long period of (8) _______ , Xam has recently been revitalized by a programme titled “Tale of Xam” performed by master artists of Vietnamese traditional music through their beautiful vocals and talented musical skills.
The artists performed in such a simple way without accompaniment in order to (9) ______ the soul of Xam performed by our forefathers. The effect of the programme could (10) _______ through the joy of audiences and their enthusiastic talks with artists.
Ca Tru was also called “Hat A Dao” or “Hat Noi”. Originally, attractive young female singers entertained men in a relaxed environment, sometimes serving drinks and snacks. Men might have visited a “Hat A Dao” in with friends to celebrate a successful business deal or the birth of a son.
Ca Tru flourished in the 15th century in northern Vietnam when it was popular with the royal palace and a favourite hobby of aristocrats and scholars.
Later, it was performed in communal houses, inns, and private homes, and gained its high popularity.
These performances were mostly for men. When men entered a Ca Tru inn, they purchased bamboo tally cards. In Chinese Vietnamese, “tru” means “card”, and “ca” means “song” in Vietnamese, so the name Ca Tru means tally card songs. The tallies were given to the singers in appreciation for the performance. After the performance each singer received payment in proportion to the number of cards received.
Ca Tru requires at least three performers. The singer is always a woman and plays the “phach”, an instrument made of wood or bamboo that is beaten with two wooden sticks. A musician accompanies the singer on the “dan day”, a long-necked lute with three silk strings and 10 frets. There is also a drummer or “trong chau”. The drummer shows his approval of the singer or the songs depending on how he hits the drum. If he likes a song, he might hit the side of the drum twice. The “dan day” player must follow the rhythm of the “phach”. His instrument, the “dan day”, is only used in Ca Tru and is now made almost exclusively for sale to tourists.
WHAT IS “POP” MUSIC?
It has always been difficult for me to decide (1) ____ “popular music” means music written for the people or it is simple music that the people like. The same problem of definition exists with jazz. So (2) ____ different types of music have been called jazz at one time or (3) ____ that is hard to say what it really is. Jazz has always been considered (4) ____ black music but when I first took an interest in it I used to hear white bands playing music that was like Louis Armstrong’s in the 1920s. I found out (5) ____ that they learn to do this by playing his records over and over again until their style was (6) ____ to his for them to imitate him. Since then white singers (7) ____ Bob Dylan have rediscovered their own folk tradition, instead of borrowing from black roots. But the main changes since 1960 have been social and technical. One is that (8) ____ have more money to spend on records at an earlier age than they used to, so Tin Pan Alley, the “pop music” industry, aims at the teenage audience. Another is that electronic equipment has developed (9) ____ extent that technicians are now capable of mixing sound to produce recordings that are quite different from a live performance. But the real problem with “pop” music is that Tin Pan Alley has always worked against (10) ____ a genuine music of the people. It takes everything original and natural out of it and replaces it with cheap commercial imitation. As the American folk singer, Woody Guthrie said “They’ve always preferred the second-rate song. They’ve never wanted to play the good one.”