Learn The Quintessence Of Vietnamese Folk Music In The Red River Delta

Learn The Quintessence Of Vietnamese Folk Music In The Red River Delta

The Red River Delta in the north of Vietnam is the cradle and root of Vietnam’s culture where Vietnamese people from here spread out all along the country. So, this land owns the national quintessences, one of them is the treasure of types of Vietnamese traditional music.

Ca Tru (Vietnamese Opera Singing)

According to the studies, Ca Tru was formed in the 11th century but until the 13th century, it was officially recognized as a form of entertainment for the royal court under the Ly dynasty.

Learn The Quintessence Of Vietnamese Folk Music In The Red River Delta

There are numerous ways to call this traditional musical form such as  A Dao singing, Nha To singing, Cua Quyen singing, Co Dau singing but the most common name of this form is Ca Tru singing. According to the legend, Ca Tru singing was born of a woman named Dao Thi. She was a can nuong- a girl use the voice to earn money in the feudal time-who was a talented musician under the Ly dynasty. That's why sometimes people call it A Dao singing.

Ca Tru is not an easy-listening form of music, but it attracts people by its unique vocal methods, one of them is "hat ngam" which is a vocal method that singers have to close their mouth while singing but still involves vocal articulation. The lyrics of Ca Tru songs are also special, which are poems. The contents of Ca Tru songs often are the famous stories in the history, or the characters in the literature, so Ca Tru requires the audience’s comprehensive knowledge of Vietnamese history, poetry, literature, and music.

In order to have a Ca Tru stage, there are three performers including a female vocalist, a lute player and a spectator who holds the drum.

The singer is called "dao nuong" who expresses lyrics of Ca Tru, but in order to a professional "dao nuong", the girls have to get through the harsh process of practice for a long time as well as have a deep love with Ca Tru.

About 10 years ago, Ca Tru was standing in the edge of disappearance because the young generations seemed to love listening the modern music more. But now, it has become more well-known when it was recognized as the world's intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. Many foreigners are attracted to the unique rhythms and singing method of Ca Tru, going to listen Ca Tru is one of the must things to do in Hanoi for many tourists.


According to the historical compilation, Cheo appeared in the 11th century in ancient villages of Red river delta.

Learn The Quintessence Of Vietnamese Folk Music In The Red River Delta

Cheo is a classical traditional stage form describing the simple life of poor farmers or the aspiration about happy life between the unfairness under the feudal time. The main characters of  Cheo are often poor students, the unhappy women or orphans, etc.

Because the origin of Cheo was from the countryside, so the Cheo works often show the aspiration of people that are "good always win evil". In Cheo works, after the struggles, the poor student finally pass the exam and become mandarins, the good wife reunites with husband, the good people would be the award. Cheo is performed on a stage which is a sedge and the performers will perform in it with the support of the instrumental music, singing, and dancing.

The sound of the Cheo drum has a magical power, whenever hearing the sound of Cheo drum, the villagers will know the Cheo performance is about to start and they will gather to the communal house's yard to see the play.

The most popular character in Cheo is the clown, though this character just plays the supporting role in the play, the sense of humor of this character actually attracts the laugh of audiences.

Cheo has attracted and becomes the spiritual dishes of Vietnamese people for generations.

Quan Ho singing

Quan Ho is a traditional performing art, which is from Kinh Bac area- the north of Thang Long citadel- Bac Ninh and Bac Giang provinces nowadays. According to the compilation, there are 49 old Quan Ho villages in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang province along the Cau River.

Each Quan Ho village has a group of female Quan Ho singers and male Quan Ho singers. Each group will have 5 to 6 singers, meanwhile, the leader is called​ as "chi ca" or "anh ca".

Learn The Quintessence Of Vietnamese Folk Music In The Red River Delta

In the past, Quan Ho was just a cultural activity of the rural people in this area to show the aspiration of the love of the country and couple as well as show off the beautiful voice. So, they "played" Quan Ho but "performed" it. They often "played" Quan Ho in the spring festivals where they come to the festivals to make friends and exchange their love of traditional art in a large community.

Quan Ho singers now are the professional singers who not only play Quan Ho with only their passion and emotion but also are trained to perform certain songs that are professionally choreographed.

The peaceful landscape is not all what to see in the north of Vietnam, coming to this rich cultural land, let’s find out yourself an ancient communal house’s yard to watch and listen to the unique performances of these traditional musical types in your Asia tour. If you fall in love with this Vietnamese traditional musics, give us the feedback. Thank you!