Music of Vietnam

Traditional Music of Vietnam

Map of Vietnam

Vietnam covers a north-to-south expanse of 1,650 kilometers. A wide variety of traditional music is found across this expansive country. For the most part, Vietnamese guitars are played in the southern region. The information found here was learned at the Về Nguồn music school in Tây Ninh Province, approximately 100 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

Cải Lương

Vietnamese guitars a mainly used in the traditional style of play called Cải Lương. This playing style generally refers to an operatic performance style originating in Tây Ninh Province in the southern part of the country. The music is also performed outside of the operatic tradition, in contexts such as Đạo Cao Đài prayer ceremonies. These styles of play are collectively know as Cải Lương and maintain a cultural charm that is commonly understood and rooted in people’s everyday lives.

Vietnamese guitar is rarely played in solo performance. Rather, it is played in ensembles with a focus on stringed instruments such as Đàn có, Đàn nguyệt, and Đàn bầu – the well-known one-stringed instrument. The Vietnamese guitar also often accompanies vocalists.

The First Song to Learn – Vọng Cổ dây lai.

Musical Score

Vọng  Cổ dây lai
Vọng Cổ dây lai

Pronunciation Key

  1. Hò (Liù) = hoh (li-yu)
  2. Xù (u) = soo (ooh) (
  3. y = ee
  4. Xan = san
  5. Xè = say
  6. Cống = con
  7. phán (oán) = fan (wan)
  8. Liù = li-yu

The fundamental key is called Hò (Liù). y is a fundamental minor scale with three degrees of differential.

Performance Notation and Terms

  • Rung = vibrato
  • Chạy Chũ = underline / play fast
  • Nhịp = accent
  • Nhốn = press hard
  • Rảy = chord
  • Thang ân = scale
  • Đọc bản = reading music
  • Bấn ngón = fingering
  • Dích tăn khảy = picking