The Music of Vietnam: Traditional Instruments

Traditional Vietnamese instruments are a diverse array of string, wind, and percussion instruments that create syncretistic music. Traditional Vietnamese music bears Chinese influences and, to a lesser extent, Korean, Mongolian, and Japanese influences.

Here are some great clips of traditional musical instruments.

Dàn bầu– A Vietnamese monochord, or one-string guitar, the đàn bầu dates back to at least 1770. Legend tells of a blind woman playing the instrument at a market to provide for her family while her husband fought in a war. Historically, the instrument was played by blind musicians.

T’rưng– A bamboo xylophone, the t’rưng is closely associated with the spiritual aspects of the Bahnar Giarai peoples in the Vietnamese Central Highlands. Over time, the instrument has become more complex with additional tubes added.

Trống cơm– Also known as a rice drum, it is a bongo-shaped Vietnamese drum. In order to “tune” the surface, a layer of cooked rice is smeared on the surface, hence the name “rice drum.” It is one of the drums used to accompany Cheo drama, and is popular in traditional orchestras.

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