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8 Unique Vietnamese Traditional Musical Instruments

Vietnam has the priceless treasure of traditional musical instruments which has been established and enriched for thousands of years. Through Vietnamese musical instruments, feelings and wishes for a better life are expressed; wills and spirits against invaders are raised higher as well as respects are shown to ancestors of Vietnamese people. Most of the Vietnamese traditional musical instruments have simple structures but requires the delicateness and many years of hard work from the artists to perform the perfect melodies. If you are interested in discovering Vietnamese culture, read on to have a deeper knowledge of Vietnamese musical instruments with pictures and descriptions.

Vietnamese Stringed Musical Instruments

Dan Bau

Considered as one of the most unique and attractive instruments, the sound made by Dan Bau is extremely rustic and tunable but can touch the bottom of the heart of every audience. The uniqueness of this instrument comes from its simple structure. Just one string can express every level of tone and emotion; bring strange charms for each song and melody.

Vietnam Instrument Dan Bau

To make an ideal instrument, materials must be carefully chosen. The surface of Dan Bau needs making from shiny wood guaranteeing enough lightness to create the necessary resonance. Mahogany is often selected to make the frame because of its beauty and durability. The string used to be made of silk but now iron instead.

Dan Nguyet

This instrument is widely used in folk music as well as royal arts in Vietnam. The sound from Dan Nguyet is clear, vibrant, and able to adapt diverse performances from excitement to deep thinking. Therefore, the musical instrument often appears in solemn ceremonies, charismatic singing, emotional funerals as well as elegant operas with different performances such as accompanying or solo.

Vietnamese Traditional Instrument Dan Nguyet

Dan Day

Dan Day, in the past, used to be an instrument for accompanying two traditional arts: Cua Dinh singing and A Dao singing. It is the bass instrument which has a long neck as well as high frets. Ngon Chun, a unique technique (reducing the sound with fingers) helps the player lower the melody. What makes this musical instrument different from other musical instrument is the warm, dull but short sound creating the contrast to accentuate the voice of singers accompanied by the instrument. Nowadays, Dan Day is used additionally for accompanying poems attracting the attention of many tourists.

Vietnamese Stringed Instrument Dan Day

Dan Nhi

Despite the simplicity of the look, Dan Nhi can obtain greatness. It is said that all traditional arts in Vietnam from folk songs in the North to Cai Luong in the south will lose a lot of its attractions and glamour unless accompanied by this wonderful instrument. Dan Nhi has two metal strings and the bow made of wood or bamboo and fitter with horsehair. The body of Dan Nhi is made of hardwood together with snake or python skin while its neck has no fret. This instrument has two pegs for tuning. Various techniques must be used by players consisting of vibrato, staccato, legato together with strings to produce glissando, rapid runs, and trills, etc.

Vietnamese Stringed Instrument - Dan Nhi Erhu

Vietnamese Wind Musical Instruments

Ken Bau

This trumpet is commonly used in weddings, funerals, celebrations and especially in Nha Nhac (Vietnamese Court Music). Ken Bau has many versions based on regions and uses, mainly classified into three types: low-sound trumpet, medium-sound trumpet (most popular) and high-sound one. The special part of Ken Bau is its bell made of the dry peel of gourd (“Bau” means gourd). The sound of Ken Bau is strong