In Vietnam, possession ceremonies can still be found in which participants fall into trances to be possessed by saints. They still exist all around Vietnam, but the songs heard on this CD are from North Vietnam only. In these ceremonies, when a person falls into a trance, the song of the saint possessing him or her is sung by the people participating in the ceremony, accompanied by a small ensemble. The texts of the songs are adapted according to what the person in a trance does; the singers must thus know the texts of the songs very well and how to change according to what might transpire during a ceremony. The ceremonies can last between a few minutes and one hour. These songs are called "chau van." The ensemble is comprised of the dan nguyêt (a lute in the shape of the moon), the dan nhi (a two-stringed fiddle), the trong con (a 20 cm drum hit with two sticks), the phach (a woodblock or a piece of bamboo hit with two sticks), and the canh (a small gong).
AllMusic Review by Bruno Deschênes