Music and cuisine are perhaps the most important components of any culture. But unlike food, one may find it difficult to grasp the essence of a song with lyrics written in a different language. Here is a brief walkthrough of our extremely diverse music culture.
In North Vietnam
Ca Tru/Hat A Dao: The performance involves a female singer, a string instrument “dan day” player, and a drummer “trong chau”. People would reward the singer by giving her bamboo cards “tru” that can be exchanged for money.
The basic setting of a Ca Tru performance
Dan ca Quan Ho (Quan Ho folk music) originated in Bac Ninh and usually performed among common folks. This genre was originally a recreational activity rather than a musical performance. Groups of male and female singers would take turns singing to each other, like a singing conversation! The lyrics were mostly about love or youth.
Modern-day Quan Ho has become more professional and commercialized
In Central Vietnam
Nha Nhac Cung Dinh Hue is the royal court music in Hue where the Imperial Kingdom was. This music type was originally performed for the royals, so it’s very complicated (involving an array of instruments), but also sophisticated and elegant.
Read more about Hue Royal Refined Music here
A can-not-miss part of your Hue trip
In South Vietnam
Dan ca Nam Bo (Southern folk music) are short, concise, and uncomplicated folk songs about relationships/society (“Ly”) or labor processes (“Ho”).
Dan ca Nam Bo performers with Ao Ba Ba
Cai Luong (Vietnamese folk opera) is Vietnam’s national musical genre. Cai Luong is accompanied by “Vong Co” – a distressed-sounding singing technique.
Many plays are based on Vietnam’s medieval society
This was the age when traditional folk tunes got particularly Westernized. Because of the country’s contemporary politics, our music evolved into 2 different genres: “Nhac do” (red music) from the North represents nationalism, while “Nhac vang” (yellow music) from the South was elegant and romantic.
Another noteworthy feature of this era is composer Trinh Cong Son. Trinh Cong Son talked about love, life, loss, and war. People adored his melancholy style and especially his philosophically poetic lyrics.
Trinh Cong Son – Vietnamese Bob Dylan
Post-modern – Contemporary Music
In the early 2000s, youngsters were obsessed with pop ballad singers like My Tam or Ho Quynh Huong. Then came the rise of Internet-based teen pop singers like Dong Nhi or Noo Phuoc Thinh. However, as K-pop and J-pop took over South East Asia around the 2010s, V-pop today has become so diverse with bubblegum pop, dance-pop, and R&B pop, all exceptionally popular among youngsters. The EDM craze from the West has also taken root and received positive responses.
Surprisingly, metal rock is really loved by locals, making bands like Buc Tuong into the mainstream. Also, alternative indie rock bands like Ca Hoi Hoang or Nhung Dua Tre are also doing really well with youngsters.
Ca Hoi Hoang at one of their live shows
Currently, indie music is the trend as more and more music from Soundcloud gets to be performed on concert stages. Notable names include Ngot Band, Da LAB, and Vu.
Conclusion on Vietnamese Music
It is impossible to cover all aspects of Vietnamese music in one short blog, but we hope you now have a sense of what Vietnamese music is and planning on giving them a listen. If you happen to be in town, visit Ticketbox to purchase tickets for any concerts, live shows, or showcases that may be going on.
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