Văn Bà Đệ Tứ Literature of the 4th Lady Performed by Bà Cả Chung Recorded in 1931 This is an example of hát chầu văn, a form of spirit mediumship music from northern Vietnam. Known for its bright sound and lively tempos, ethnomusicologist Barley Norton has described this musical form as “vibrant earthy music with popular appeal.” When a medium experiences possession she (and sometimes he) will manifest the spirit of a succession of spirits who all have their own characteristics and personalities. In this recording the medium is representing the 4th lady of the temple’s pantheon. Hát chầu văn and spirit mediumship has historically had its strongest presence in the Nam Định region, but was ubiquitous throughout the north of Vietnam. This form of ritual practice incorporates aspects of Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism and is often associated with fortune telling. The ensemble consists of a đàn nguyệt player and two percussionists playing bamboo clappers (phách), small cymbal (cảnh) and a small barrel-shaped drum with two heads (trống cái). Bà Cả Chung—Mrs. Eldest Chung—is listed as the singer and is also the medium. All we know of her is that she lived in Hà Nội. The other musicians are unattributed.