Hat Xam, or the song of the blind artists, has existed since the Tran dynasty (13th century).
Tran Quoc Dinh, a son of King Tran Thanh Tong was the father of the special performance. In a complex situation, his brother, in a fit of jealousy against the talents of Dinh, pierced his eyes, rendering him blind for the remaining of his life. Dinh loved singing very much, and in order to accompany his songs, he invented a simple musical instrument constituted principally of a cord made of rattan and other creepers which gave out a deep and sorrowful sound, alike to a reproach accompanying his singing voice.
The beauty of the “Xam” song is expressed in the rhythms and tones of the music. Its attractive and lively drum rhythms and numerous rules of song applications make it an interesting spectacle. The “Xam” song tells of the fate or unhappiness of the poor. Besides theses common themes, there are funny songs with satirical implications about wrong doings, the condemnation of outdated customs, the crimes of rulers, and the deeds of heroes. These stories are well loved by many people.
The instruments traditionally used for the “Xam” song are a two-stringed violin, bamboo castanets, and two “Xam” drums. People used to walk in a group of 2 to 5 and sing, mainly in residential areas such as a parking lot, a ferry-landing, or a market gate
Today, “Xam” singers no longer exist, but their ancient art is still kept alive and respected.