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Meeting Challenges

Hat a dao instruments
(northern tradition)
Canadian Museum of Civilization

  Hat a dao instruments - Musicians: Pham Duc Thanh


This set consists of three instruments: a drum, a phach (wooden percussion block) and a lute. The word hat means both song and mime. Known mainly in North Vietnam, hat a dao refers to the tradition of singing competitions that continues to this day. In the past, the competitions were organized in the villages in the spring, to choose the best female singers and the best musicians. They lasted 10 to 12 days. The villagers elected four judges based on their knowledge of the art of voice and music.

Hat a dao is quite demanding because the singers must know how to play the phach, mime and dance. Today, when the repertoire is performed, the quality of the singer's voice and performance is evaluated by a judge who holds the trong chau, a small drum used to give praise. The judge uses the drum to communicate his opinion.