6 Popular Types of Vietnamese Traditional Music

Ca trù, one of the Vietnamese Traditional Music Types

Vietnamese traditional music has been created and handed from generation to generation which represent a diverse and long history.

Âm nhạc cổ truyền Việt Nam là sự kết tinh của những sáng tạo nghệ thuật vô giá được lưu truyền, bồi đắp qua nhiều thế hệ, là minh chứng sống động cho một nền văn hóa dân tộc đa dạng, giàu bản sắc và có lịch sử lâu đời.

Northern Vietnamese Traditional Music


“Chèo” was formed and developed in the 10th century in the North of Vietnam, especially in the Red River Delta. This Vietnamese traditional music is a mass-oriented type and is said to be suitable for festival because of its characteristics of using multi-vocal and multi-meaningful language combined with narrative and lyrical phrasing.

“Chèo” plays are often inspired by myths or folk stories, clearly reflecting the lyricism and national pride.

Dân ca quan họ

Dân ca quan họ is one of the Vietnamese traditional music or folk songs of the Red River Delta region of Vietnam.

Dân ca quan họ was created long time ago. They are performed by alternating response lyrics between the group of male (liền anh) and female (liền chị) wearing traditional costumes called áo tứ thân. The performances are without accompaniment but they are still catchy because of the talent of the singers.

In 2009, Dân ca quan họ was recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. In 2016, 67 traditional quan họ villages were included in the list of the national cultural heritage conservation and development, mainly in the two provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang.

Vietnamese Traditional Music Dan ca quan ho

Ca trù

Ca Tru is a Vietnamese traditional music in the North of Vietnam, combining singing with some ethnic musical instruments which has delicate and sophisticated musical language. Ca Tru was popular since the 15th century and was once a kind of court music, loved by aristocrats & scholars at that time.

In 2009, Ca Tru was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage in need of urgent protection.

Central Vietnamese Traditional Music

Nhã nhạc cung đình

“Nhã nhạc” is the phrase to refer to the kind of court music played officially for the Feudal dynasties, including the festival part and the music part.

“Nhã nhạc cung đình Huế” (Huế Royal Court Music) was born in Lý Dynasty but it didn’t reach its flourished time until Nguyễn Dynasty.

Nhã nhạc cung đình Huế was performed in the important occasions such as coronation ceremonies, funerals or official receptions.

It was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in 2003.

Nowadays, when paying a visit to Huế, don’t forget to take that opportunity to enjoy this meaning music.

Nha nhac cung dinh Hue, one of Vietnamese Traditional Music type.

“Hò” is a musical performance of Vietnam. The origin of “hò” comes from the working habits of Vietnamese people. It is associated with a movement while working.

A person does “hò” for representing a large group to encourage the working spirit for that group. Popular “hò” songs includes hò kéo lưới (net fishing), hò giã gạo (rice pounding), hò xẻ gỗ (wood sawing),…

Southern Vietnamese Traditional Music

Đờn ca tài tử

“Đờn ca tài tử” was formed and developed in the late of 19th century, originating from Hue royal court music and folklore or Nhã nhạc cung đình Huế. However it is more popular in the South of Vietnam. It is usually in a form of band consisting of đàn kìm, đàn tranh, đàn bầu, đàn cò (tứ tuyệt or 4 types of Vietnamese traditional musical instrument).

In 2013, “đờn ca tài tử” was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.


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