Ca tru was first mentioned in the 11th century, but it wasn’t until the 13th century, during the Ly Dynasty, that it was officially recognized as a form of entertainment for the royal court.
Ca tru is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms. Ca tru groups comprise three performers: a female singer who uses breathing techniques and vibrato to create unique ornamented sounds, while playing the clappers or striking a wooden box, and two instrumentalists who produce the deep tone of a three-stringed lute and the strong sounds of a praise drum.
Some Ca tru performances also include dance. The varied forms of Ca tru fulfill different social purposes, including worship singing, singing for entertainment and singing competitions. Ca tru has 56 different musical forms or melodies.
Folk artists pass on the music and poems that comprise Ca tru pieces within their family line, and these days usually share it with anyone wishing to learn.