One of the outstanding features of culture of the history over 300 years of Sai Gon – Gia Dinh, the gathering place of many cultural currents, being “the architectural structure” of Vietnam-China-Europe. Besides, from the view of art, the harmonious combination among three culture backgrounds: the culture of Vietnamese people with the special features in the culture of the North and the West is the background of cai luong of the South.
The subject of cai luong perhaps originates from “ Vong Co Hoai Lang” by Van Cao Lau musician at the beginning of 20th century that since then “Vong co” has become the leading role in the art of Cai Luong up to now. Up to now, the art of Cai Luong has been formed for nearly 70 years with the prosperous development and ups and downs periods. The ancient music of Vietnam as well as ancient music of other countries are always the selective art types and not having interests as modern music.
Cai luong stage is diversified in the topics and ways of performing: it is described in all types of topics in life that is not tightened by the genre, and is combined tightly between the practical characters and conditioning characters, manners. The structure of a Cai luong play always is briefly, complete, continuous, the images of characters are clear, showing key points, the outline is close to the life, full of lyrical characters, combining tightly between the national characters and the popular characters of the world, therefore, cai luong is easy to come into modern topics and this is a strength of cai luong in current situation.
Cai luong stage considers vong co as the decisive role. It is known that in 1918 Mr. Cao Van Lang composed the play “Da Co Hoai Lang’, later become the traditional tune. Da Co Hoai Lang came first from the traditional tune has created the new atmosphere for the ancient music of the South. Since then, in any Cai Luopng play, the traditional tune is always the leading one, expressed diversifying in all situations, in a play of Cai Luong.
Cai Luong: The art of traditional culture, combining between the East and the West
Cai luong originates in the songs of Ly, the music and song in the southwest. Originally, from the genres of chamber music, forwarding to performances, both singing and performing by the movements to illustrate, called ca ra bo ( a simple type of performing), compared to the amateur artisans, to serve parties…
From the beginning years of the 20th century, in 1917s, our ancestors created Cai luong stage such as Nguyen Tong Trieu, Andre Than, Thay Nam Tu…. The first is the type of music and song. At that time, Tuong (Hat boi) did not keep the role in enjoying the art of performing of the southern people, so in rural areas, appearing the movement of music and song to serve in parties such as: wedding days, parties, death anniversary… Then the type of ca ra bo. The beginning of this genre was marked at the performance of the orchestra in the stage in which having co Ba Dac at the colonial trade fair in France. Then ca ra bo has been developed as a trend in the South. The performance is simply performed a set of wooden plank, the actors both perform and sing with the movements to illustrate. Ca ra bo is the hyphen between the two types of music and stage and screen. Then thanks to composers such as: Truong Duy Toan, Moc quan Nguyen Trong Quyen… rewriting each part of ancient stories to perform ca ra bo, with the type of replying songs, potpourri to combine into plays of tuong, cai luong such as Luc Van Tien, Kim Van Kieu, etc.
Cai Luong has been formed and developed quickly thanks to the contributions of famous people such as Nam Phi, Nam Chau, Tran Huu Trang, Tu Choi, Nam No, Phung Ha, etc.
For firstly being formed, Cai Luong likes the calling name, is impacted by many types of art ( dau Ngo minh So). The mixture in the costumes or styles of performing often happens, for example, the actor plays the role of Lu Bo wearing shoes, playing the role of Dieu Thuyen, wearing long dress, binding a string around the back and singing all types of tale , etc. However, all the non art features gradually have been disappeared. All the authors having knowledge, talent that Cai luong stage formed two currents: Tuong Tau and Tuong Tay that later researchers of the stage confirmed that Cai luong has two measures: the measure of mentality and the measure of expressing the meanings.
In the condition of culture of Vietnam at the beginning of the century, hat Boi is tthe he type of ancient art, play is the new type of new art, meanwhile, Cai Luong stands in the middle of the old and the new. The national characters through the measure of expressing the meanings and the practical mentality. Cai Luong stage is both traditional and modern thanks to the clever combination between the practical mentality and expressing the meaning.
According to the researcher Tuan Giang, basing on some studying works, beside music and song of South, there is a current of Cai Luong which is the art reform of hat Boi. However, the reform is the change, renewal from the old type to the new type without omitting the background, model of hat Boi, meanwhile Cai luong omitted the model of hat Boi. The tunes, expressions of hat Boi in Cai Luong is a fact that no one can not argue but it is not the official tune. The tune of one, ly and vong co is the official tune of Cai luong which is the factor fascinating people. Cai luong borrows tunes, ways of expression of Tuong to enrich itself and meet the demand of the aesthetic art of the public.
It can be said that, ca ra bo is the bridge between the chamber music and Cai luong stage later. Because gradually, the way of development of ca ra bo comes in to the art of the stage. The first step is “hat Boi is mixed with the new way of singing, simply called Cai luong, then self forms by a separate type in 40s. Cai luong is tightly close to people of the South, due to the feature of sweet pronunciation so the voice of the singing of South of Cai luong is so lyrical.
The music and song originates in the combination between the traditional music and scientific music ( which is specified in ritual music and Hue songs) in great songs such as Nam, Oan, Ngu, the admission of the features of the folk songs of South (the tune is both the music of telling stories, replying music), has made cai luong full of lyrical characters, and narrative genre, this makes the typical art features of cai luong; which is the lyrical and narrative genre. Therefore, in performing art, singing and saying play the same important role: singing combining with saying, saying between the two songs, or saying in the sentences.
From appearing, Cai luong has been impacted by the two currents of stage: traditional Tuong stage of Viettnam and the modern play of France. Tuong stage of Vietnam have the common typical features of the Asian Stage which is the structure of scripts, the play following the type of narrative genre and stage of Play of France having the common character of Europe which is the structure of scripts, the play based on the type of A-ri-xtốt. Therefore, Cai luong also has two types which are different, but the two types has the same root of music. The music pieces of Cai luong is full of national characters, having complete types expressing the minds of characters with all different states, creating favorable conditions for actors to sing combine with performing despite performing to the type of Tuong of Vietnam or the type of play of France.
With an agricultural society for thousand years of age, with the traditional spirit which always highly appreciates the self character – the self character is full of being loyal to the king of Confucian, the self character express the community feature then changes to the self of freedom with separate characters which is a turning point. Tuong hat boi has a type of character being loyal to the king: from the mind to the action which are always affected by the faith towards to king and therefore, the individual with private factors are hidden by the people of Confucius. In Cai Luong, the self character is full of separate characters of human beings. Those are people who want to escape from the bind of religion, and want to self liberate themselves, and live for love and go to the call of love and give up fame, status and sometimes suicide. “khi nguoi dien biet hat”, “Noi long nguoi bep”, “To Anh Nguyet”, “Doi co Luu” and many pieces of this type. This is the self knowing how to sing the love song and devote for love, not following any thought of loyalty to the King. The romance, the demand for liberating the individuals… is a demand expressing the era, a need having advanced character towards people of culture of wet rice which is bound by the measure of Asian production.
In the development period, the works of Cai Luong is supplemented from the sources of folk, Ho and Ly. When accessing, and exchange with the stage of play of Quang Dong (China) and modern music of the west, Cai Luong also chooses some scripts, and are nationalized to enrich the available sources of music. Then at the same time supplementing scripts, the orchestra of ethnic groups of Cai Luong already know how to access modern musical instruments. Violins, bamboo shoot, guitar of the west which are pieced keys in order that when playing these musical instruments, the tunes and lyrics are suitable for the orchestra of the ethnic groups which are available. Up to now, guitar is the official musical instrument of Cai Luong and has become the musical instrument of the ethnic groups of Vietnam.
The typical feature of Cai Luong stage
Cai luong is diversified in the topics and ways of performing: It is described in all types of topics in life that is not tightened by the genre, and is combined tightly between the practical characters and conditioning characters, manners. The structure of a Cai luong play always is briefly, complete, continuous, the images of characters are clear, showing key points, the outline is close to the life, full of lyrical characters, combining tightly between the national characters and the popular characters of the world, therefore, cai luong is easy to come into modern topics and this is a strength of cai luong in current situation.
As well as the art of play of singing of other nations, Cai luong consists of dancing, singing, music ( not including scripts of tale). But in the development and completion, Cai luong has undergone the reform in music, the orchestra of cai luong do not use the musical instruments like Tuong, Cheo that guitar and Vietnamese two chord guitar are two leading instruments. Cai Luong stage is a type of the stage which is totally different from hat boi both in the content of the play and the performing art.
Cai luong is a play, the creativity of the truth which is expressed on the stage, then fancy. Moreover, the performance also needs the true love that can make people emotional.
Cai luong stage stands beside hat cheo and hat boi. From the old time, the melody of cai luong inherits hat boi (after nearly 200 years of experience), but cai luong accepts the slogan “the both complete in the voice and the beauty) by embroidering four golden terms on the swell in green color, hanging in front of the red velvet cloth. And trying to implement humbly.
In the voice and beauty (good voice, beautiful body), “ talent and charn” ( including movements, color) is the clue of performing art ; hiding from the powder and perfumes is the color, movement, and the plot; and the outline should be brief, the tale should have conflicts which attract audiences, whatever tuong, cheo or cai luong all are the same. However, towards Tuong hat boi, the outline follows the type of long novel, which can be performed in months, years and mixing with non relevant scenes which spoil the play and do not make the play clear. That is the restrict of hat boi. Cai Luong always wants to make the story complete, continuous, the activities are exciting, the images of characters are clear, the circumstances are condensed .
Cai luong stage is good at voice, the singing sentence are clear, beautiful in movements, the outline and scenes are arranged to the new measure, although it is not refined but it is close to life. As for the tune, it is less grand, but it is good at dialogues and full of lyrical characters. The layer of “narrative” not only comes to the soul of the audience but also the activities of dialogues are fascinating. Those are strong points of cai luong. The literature of cai luong is good at renewing, and know how to put into the poem of the nation, but it is not good at using many commonplace terms, less precise.