Discovering Folk Music in Vietnam

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of folk music, then you’ll definitely want to check out Vietnam. This country has a rich tradition of folk music, and there are many great ways to discover it. Here are some of the best ways to do so!


Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country located on the eastern edge of the Indochinese peninsula. It is bordered by Laos, Cambodia, and China. Folk music in Vietnam is different from the music you would typically hear in the west. It is often based onDân ca, which means folk songs. This type of music has been around for centuries and is still popular today.

There are many different types of folk music in Vietnam. These include Ca trù,Chèo,Hát chầu văn,Hò,Bầu cỏ,Lào cổ,Quan họ,…

What is Folk Music?

Most people think of folk music as being synonymous with traditional music, but this isn’t always the case. Folk music can be traditional, but it can also be contemporary. It is music that is passed down from generation to generation, often orally, and it typically reflects the beliefs and values of the people in a particular culture.

Folk music is often used to tell stories or to express emotions. It can be happy or sad, serious or playful. Folk songs can be about love, loss, work, or play. They often deal with everyday life and the human experience.

Folk music is usually performed by acoustic instruments, although it can also be performed with electric instruments. The most common folk instruments are guitars, banjos, harmonicas, fiddles, and accordions.

Folk music is an important part of Vietnam’s musical heritage. It is a way for people to connect with their past and their heritage. Folk songs are often about the everyday lives of Vietnamese people and their experiences. Many folk songs are about love, loss, and the human experience.

If you are interested in discovering more about Vietnam’s folk music scene, there are a few ways to go about it. You can attend a live performance, listen to recordings of traditional folk songs, or read about Vietnamese folk music online.

The History of Folk Music in Vietnam

The history of folk music in Vietnam can be traced back to the 12th century when the first Vietnamese dynasty was established. Often used for ceremonial purposes, folk music was originally performed by professional musicians hired by the court. Over time, it began to spread to the rural areas where it was adapted and performed by the people.

Folk music became an important part of Vietnamese culture and was used to express important social and political messages. The most famous type of folk music is ca trù, which was traditionally only performed by female musicians. Ca trù tells stories of love, loss, and other important aspects of life.

During the 20th century, Vietnam underwent many changes that had a profound impact on its folk music. First, the country was colonized by France, which introduced Western musical elements into Vietnamese folk music. Later, Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam, which caused further changes to the way folk music was performed and heard.

Despite all of these changes, folk music has remained an important part of Vietnamese culture. In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in traditional folk music, as well as a renewed appreciation for its cultural value.

The Different Types of Folk Music in Vietnam

Folk music in Vietnam is incredibly diverse, with various regions of the country having their own unique styles and influences. The most common type of folk music is ca tru, which originated in the northern region of Vietnam. Ca tru is traditionally performed by female vocalists, and the lyrics often tell stories of love, loss, and heartbreak. Another popular type of folk music is quan ho, which comes from the Red River Delta region in northern Vietnam. Quan ho is typically performed by groups of female singers, who use their beautiful voices to share tales of love and loss.

In central Vietnam, the most popular type of folk music is hát chầu văn. Hát chầu văn songs are typically about religious subjects, and are often sung by monks in temples. In southern Vietnam, the most popular type of folk music is nhã nhạc. Nhã nhạc songs are usually upbeat and festive, making them perfect for celebrations and special occasions.

No matter what type of folk music you choose to listen to, you’re sure to be enchanted by the beautiful melodies and fascinating stories that these songs have to offer.

The Popularity of Folk Music in Vietnam

Folk music continues to be popular in Vietnam, with many people of all ages enjoying and dancing to the music at festivals and other events. The music often accompanies traditional dances, which are also popular among the Vietnamese people. Folk music is typically played on traditional instruments, such as the dan tranh (a 16-string zither), the dan nguyet (a two-stringed lute), and the dan bau (a one-stringed monochord).

The Future of Folk Music in Vietnam

It is difficult to say what the future of folk music in Vietnam will be. The genre has been on a decline in recent years, with fewer and fewer young people taking an interest in it. This is likely due to the increased popularity of other music genres such as pop, rock, and hip-hop. However, there is still a small but dedicated group of folk music lovers in Vietnam who continue to support the genre and keep it alive.

One way that folk music might be able to survive in Vietnam is through government support. The Vietnamese government has already shown some interest in preserving traditional Vietnamese culture, and they may be willing to provide financial assistance to folk musicians. If the government is able to provide enough support, it is possible that folk music will make a comeback in Vietnam. Only time will tell what the future of this genre will be.

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