Vietnam Express: discovering the vietnamese music

  >  City   >  Vietnam Express: discovering the vietnamese music

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart said that “the Music isn’t in the notes, the music is between the notes” and starting with this quote today I bring you to discover the music in Vietnam.


In our trip to Ho Chi Minh City, in fact, we found a street, “Nguyen Thien Thuat” full of music stores in particular guitars. If you love music this place it’s for you because every store offers a wide range of tools: from the most valuable to the cheapest ones.

In Vietnam most instrument resemble the Chinese ones, some even have similar names. However some instruments only exist in Vietnam, like the Dan Day and Dan Bau (Dan means lute). These have a lots of  inlaid and mother of pearl decorations.

Dan nguyet / dan kim

It is a relative of the Chinese yueqin or ruan, but with a much longer neck and only two strings. Dan Nguyet is used to accompany singing, in ceremonial music and in the traditional orchestra.

Dan Nguyet
foto tratta da internet

Dan sen

The Dan Sen is a slightly smaller instrument than the Dan Nguyet, but is in fact made in the same way. It is only used in the Hat Boi (Traditional Drama) in South Vietnam.

foto tratta da internet

Dan doan

The Dan Doan looks very similar to the Chinese yueqin (“moon-guitar”). It is sometimes also called Dan Nhat or Dan Tu. It is played with a plectrum.

dan DOAN
foto tratta da internet

Dan Day

The Dan Day is the most famous lute and you can find it only in Vietnam. It’s used only by men to accompany the “A Dao” (or “Ca tru”) a singing genre popular in the North of Vietnam.

dan day

Dan tam

This three-stringed banjo-lute is used by several ethnic groups in Vietnam. The Dan Tam exists in three sizes: large, medium, and small. The small one is the most popular. It is quite similar to the Chinese sanxian, and a relative of the Japanese shamisen, and the Mongolian shanz.


Dan tyba

It is very similar to the Chinese pipa. The main difference is that the top six frets aren’t triangular. The Dan Tyba music is light and cheerful. The instrument is played solo or as part of an orchestra or a band accompanying the singing.


Dan Bau

Is a monochord very typical Vietnamese instrument, that is played only in Vietnam. However according to legend, the Dan Bau was traditionally played by blind musicians. Today, Dan Bau takes part in the ensembles of theatrical music, and even in groups playing modern music.


The Vietnamese who migrated to the USA in the 1930’s wanted to play an instrument that had a sounds like their home instruments. For that reason they took the guitars and scraped the fingerboard until they obtain the same effect of vietnamese traditional instruments. That’s the story of the Ghita. 


Enjoy the concert!

In the next article I will talk about the Mekong River Delta and its islands.

post a comment