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English Section:

1. Ca Dao Viet Nam (folk poetry)

“Go out one day, come back with a basket full of knowledge.” This proverb begins the exciting collection, Ca Dao Viet Nam. This intriguing project offers a type of poem never before seen in the United States. John Balaban returned to the States after the Vietnam War, but the beauty of Vietnam still haunted him, calling him back. More than the physical beauty of rivers and fields was the beauty of the ca dao, the oral folk poetry.

2. Audio commentary by John Balaban (18'00).


2. The Exotic Sounds of Ca Tru

By Barbara Cohen

Ca tru music sounds strange to the uninitiated. Clicks and clacks accompany the centuries old ballads. It is not the kind of music that inspires toe tapping or humming. Once almost extinct, a club in Hanoi is reviving this uniquely Vietnamese musical tradition and teaching new generations that to participate in a ca tru performance is to be transported to another age and once you start to recognize the art's fine subtleties it can be intoxicating.


3. Viet Nam


75,030,000 (1995). 54 official ethnic communities. 56,849,370 or 94% speakers of Austro-Asiatic languages, 2,255,450 or 3.7% speakers of Daic languages, 679,000 or 1.1% speakers of Miao-Yao languages, 492,000 or 0.8% speakers of Austronesian languages, 40,000 speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages (1991 J. Matisoff). Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam. Literacy rate 78% to 88%. Information mainly from SIL 1982, Wurm and Hattori 1981, Vietnamese Linguistic Institute 1991. Data accuracy estimate: A2, B. Buddhist, secular, Christian, traditional religion, Muslim. Blind population 200,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf institutions: 1. The number of languages listed for Viet Nam is 87. Of those, 86 are living languages and 1 is extinct.


Dan Bau, Dan Tranh, Dan T'rung, Dan Tam Thap Luc, Dan Nguyet, Dan Doan, Dan K'long Put, Dan Nhi,
Dan Tam, Dan Ty Ba, Sao Truc

English   Vietnamese

From: http://www.chuck-haiyen.com/Instruments.htm#36

DAN BAU (Monochord)

Let the artist of the Dan Bau be the only one who listens to his music. Young maid guard yourself against listening.

This warning, probably coming from vigilant parents wishing to protect their daughters from the emotional appeal of love songs played on this instrument; this gives an idea of the power and charm of its music.

According to the "Dai Nam thuc luc tien bien"  the first dan bau was made in 1770. At its first appearance it was a very simple instrument comprised of a bamboo section, a flexible rod, a calabash or half a coconut. After a process of evolution and improvement, the present form of the dan bau is a bit more sophisticated, yet still quite simple. It consists of an oblong box-shaped sound board, slightly narrower toward one end, with a slightly warped top made of unvarnished soft light wood, sides made of hard wood, and a bottom of light wood pierced with holes for better sound. At one end of the sound board is a flexible bamboo rod that goes through a dried calabash whose bottom end has been cut out before being fixed on the sounding board. At the other end of the sounding board is a peg  made of wood or metal used for tuning . The metal string, is attached to the rod and to the peg. The pluck is a pointed stick of bamboo or rattan.

The notes played by the dan bau are smooth, sweet, and captivating. In recent years success has been achieved in amplifying the sound, causing an increase in volume and distance the that the sound carries, while still preserving the quality of the sound.

The instrument is played solo or to accompany a poetry recital. During recent years, it has taken a role in orchestral accompaniment to cheo and cai luong opera. The dan bau has been performed on major stages in foreign countries.


Looking For
A New Musical Language
(Early 1930s)
Songs Based on Old Tunes

In the early thirties, Hanoi suffered a paucity of musical activities. Traditional music such as HÁT TRỐNG QUÂN and HÁT QUAN HỌ were absent from the cities. Even in the countryside, where these songs originated, the Vietnamese living under French colonial rule seemed to sing them only half-heartedlỵ  (Pham Duy)

 Queen Dương Vân Nga

One speaks rarely of Dương Vân Nga in the history of Vietnam. Her name is not as often cited as that of the sisters Trung Trac Trung Nhi or that of Trieu Au. However she was an outstanding woman, the great queen of the first two dynasties Đinh and Tiền Lê ( anterior Lê ) of Vietnam. Her life and works can be summed up in the following four verses which have been transmitted by oral tradition to our days and left on the wall of Am Tien monastery by a mysterious monk exactly 1000 years now, at his encounter with Dương Vân Nga:

Rice Drum Song

Tinh Tu Tin (T́nh Tự Tin) by Pham Duy
English verses by Pham Quang Tuan

1. My love (s)he's got a little drum,
Oh how he plays his love-a-drum drum

Folk music

Vietnamese folk music is extremely diverse and includes quan họ, hát chầu văn and ca trù, among other forms.


Category:History of Vietnam

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