What are various kinds of music in Vietnam nowadays?

Music in Vietnam becomes one vital part of daily life of the local people. Many types of traditional music changes to be suitable for new requires, which can help them live besides modern styles.

In this article, Hue Flavor mentions about three main parts, including:

music in vietnam

Now please go to explore it!

1. History Summary of Vietnamese Music

Music has long been considered an indispensable part of a nation, it is like a mirror that reflects the most characteristic features of a country in terms of people, customs, geography.

Vietnamese music is a continuous endless flow with many branches and various kinds of music.

All of these things have created a history of Vietnamese music full of different nuances that give the audience a wide range of emotions.

In the article, we would like to briefly summarize the flow of Vietnamese music history.

1.1. The early stage of Vietnamese music

As a country with 4000 years of civilization, it is not difficult to understand when Vietnam has a richness in music, such as traditional musical instruments, musical genres, and a huge number of musical works.

As a means for people to express their love and feelings towards human beings, society, and the chances, Vietnamese music has many different emotional nuances. Besides, music in Vietnam also expresses the religious thoughts, spiritual life, and customs of the nation.

Right from the first civilizations found through cave paintings or ancient musical instruments, we can see the early age of Vietnamese music, most notably the Dong Son bronze drum.

bronze drum
Bronze drum – Photo: vnexpress

Many of these drums with their massive scale, well-proportioned and harmonious shapes have shown a very high level of skill and artistry.

Especially, there are the rich patterns that were cast on the drum telling the realistic life, but in general, the main function of the bronze drum is still the function of a musical instrument.

Each part of the bronze can create different sounds of music, including Mi, Fa, Si,…

1.2. The period of colonization

In the period of invasion by the Northern invaders, Viet music was heavily influenced by Chinese culture and India and Champa. The most notable is the popularity of musical instruments, such as Pi Pa, Dan Tranh (16-chord zither), and Dan Nhi (2-string instrument).

However, Vietnamese music soon had new perspectives, perfectly harmonizing foreign influences with traditional music. Thereby, this combination created traditional music forms of each region such as xam singing, cheo, ca tru, ho, cai luong, don ca tai tu, and Nha Nhac Cung Hue, quan ho.

hue royal music
Hue royal music. @chimaitran

The next stage saw the influence of Western music on Viet music due to the French colonial rule. This premise for the birth of new Vietnamese music came in the late 1930s with romantic pre-war music. The music of this duration separated from real life, often without a specific space or time.

In North Vietnam, revolutionary music, also known as red music, was born after 1945 with the appearance of many musicians who later became the mainstays of modern Vietnamese music. Red music songs are often highly idealized or romanticized. But unlike pre-war songs, red music places romance, idealization associated with social life, space, and time.

Meanwhile, in South Vietnam, many new genres of music such as Bolero music, Young music, and Du Ca song flourished. And, many genres still live until now, such as Bolero. With very simple and rustic lyrics, listening is understanding and penetrating, Bolero has become one of the most popular music genres in Vietnam.

bolero music in vietnam

1.3. The period of unification and development

Since the country’s reunification in 1975, Vietnamese music has gradually become richer and more diverse with plenty of styles and musical genres from other countries.

Viet music combines the styles of Asian, European, and Asian cultures, even America and Africa through the collaboration of local artists with artists from around the world.

Together with Vietnamese musicians around the world, local musicians strive to build the development of today’s Vietnamese music scene.

In general, the Vietnamese music market is now strongly rejuvenated and innovated. The development of society and the updating of popular music trends in the world have made Vietnamese music cover a new breath, younger, and more fashionable.

2. Eight traditional music genres play an important role in Vietnamese culture

Traditional music in Vietnam is the crystallization of priceless artistic creations, handed down and fostered over many generations. Traditional music is living proof of a diverse, rich, and historic national culture.

2.1. Cheo

  • Established and developed from the X century.
  • This folklore is popular in North Vietnam.
  • The Cheo plays come from the inspiration from the legend in the life, showing the love and the national pride.
  • The strong drum is the main sound for Cheo Vietnam.
cheo singing
Singers are singing Cheo. @s.hide_chan

2.2. Xam Singing

  • Xam is a professional folk song, but the main stages are the streets, market, banyan trees, temple yards…
  • Xam songs tell about various aspects of life and society.
  • Xam singers, also call Xam singing artists, have to update the issues of Vietnamese life, keeping criticizing bad things in the current society.

2.3. Quan Ho

  • Quan Ho is a form of love singing.
  • Quan Ho is considered the core singing of Nort Vietnam for thousands of years.
  • Singers of Quan Ho have professional skills to sing both strongly and emotively and learn by heart a lot of folk songs.
  • Quan Ho Bac Ninh was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of human beings in 2009.
hat quan ho
Quan Ho. @cogiaonho94

2.4. Chau Van

  • Chau Van is also traditional music in Vietnam, came from North Vietnam.
  • This is a kind of ceremony music in the spiritual ceremony worshipping Tran Hung Dao, a folk belief in Vietnam.
  • Use the spiritual songs with selected writing for worshipping.
  • Since 1954, Chau Van had been ruining because it was believed to the superstition. But, for the last few years, Chau Van is noticed trying to preserve its songs.

2.5. Ca Tru

  • Ca Tru had developed strongly since XV. That is traditional music in North Vietnam, which is combined with traditional instruments, such as Dan Day (Bottom flock). Ca Tru used to be a piece of royal music that royal classes and scholars liked.
  • Ca Tru uses many types of literature, including Phu, story, poem, but the highlight of this music is to telling and speaking singing.
  • Ca Tru has both vocal music and instrumental music with delicate and polite lyrics.
  • UNESCO recognized Ca Tru as an intangible cultural heritage in 2009.
Singing Ca Tru Vietnamese music
Singing Ca Tru. @sacam.pj

2.6. Royal Music

  • Royal music belonged to feudalism, showed in festivals since Tran and Nguyen dynasties.
  • Hue royal music was recognized by UNESCO as an oral masterpiece and an intangible cultural heritage in 2003.
  • UNESCO evaluated that royal music was rare traditional music that could become the national music in Vietnam.

2.7. Don Ca Tai Tu

  • Coming from Hue royal music and folk literature, Don Ca Tai Tu has been established and developed since the 19th century.
  • It is a type of performance with a band, including Dan Kim, Dan Co, zither, monochord. Recently, the guitar has replaced monochord.
  • Is a typical art including using music instrument and singing.
  • People in South Vietnam are good at Don Ca Tai Tu, and they often sing it after working.
  • UNESCO recognized it as an intangible cultural heritage in 2013.
don ca tai tu
Don Ca Tai Tu. @maxx.d0710

2.8. Ho

  • Ho is a singing performance in Middle and South Vietnam, typical cultural music of the daily life of the locals.
  • Originated from the workers on the rivers, telling about their feelings and thinking.
  • Popular types of Ho include Ho Dong Thap, Ho Keo Luoi (Ho when pulling net), Ho Qua Song (Ho when crossing a river), Ho Khoan, Ho Mai Nhi, Ho gia gao (Ho when pounding rice), Ho Xay Lua ( husking rice), Ho keo go (pulling wood), Ho dap lua (threshing rice).

3. The 4 most popular music genres in Vietnam nowadays

3.1. Sweet songs of Bolero music

Bolero is so familiar to most Vietnamese people, going with the years and life. Sensing emotions with sweet and soft melody, but Bolero originated from Spain to Latin America and then imported to Vietnam in the early 1950s.

Since then, bolero has not lost its position in the hearts of the audience with the immortal songs. Many singers of this type of music, such as Giao Linh, Nhu Quynh, Manh Quynh, Cam Ly…, still live in the spiritual life.

Below is the bolero of famous singers singing.

3.2. Rising in Rap since 2018 -2020

Originating from America in the black community, Rap belongs to the Hip hop culture, which is an abbreviation of Rhythm – And – Poetry. The new performance style has its own identity, rhymes and combines with dance moves to attract the audience’s eyes.

Until 2017, with the outstanding development of Vietnamese Rap in Vpop (Vietnamese pop), the first beginners of Xesi, Masew, Nhat Nguyen opened a prosperous period for Rap music.

The liberal freedom characteristic of Rap music is even more powerful in domestic music development. Typically, since 2018 – 2020, Rap music has improved in Vietnam with famous artists like Binz, Karik, Wowy, Suboi,…

3.3. Pop music still lives in the Vietnamese music

Pop music has its roots in rock and roll. Pop music has many variations depending on different historical periods or places in the world, but popular with the popular music world. With easy-to-listen melodies, some of the repeated passages in the song often talk about love and emotions.

Today’s V-pop is influenced by C-pop, K-pop, European-American music… creating new colors in Vietnamese music.

Music competitions in Vietnam have exploded strongly creating a wave of music development, such as Vietnam Idol, The Voice, Vietnamese Star, Star Academy,…

Soobin Hoang Son, Son Tung M-TP, Uyen Linh, Huong Tram, Van Mai Huong, Truc Nhan, … are the highlights of V-pop in Vietnam.

3.4. Ballad still holds the hearts of the audience

Ballad originates from country and folk music with slow and leisurely melodies. The music uses elegant and luxurious words to make listeners comfortable to enjoy.

Today ballads are mixed by many different genres of music such as rock ballad, opera ballad, folk ballad, but the most popular is still pop ballad. In Vietnam, there are many famous singers with this music, such as Vu Cat Tuong, Pham Hong Phuoc, Bich Phuong, Trung Quan, Thuy Chi,…

Although there are many genres of music in Vietnam, the above article are the top popular music genres today. Depending on your personal preferences, you can choose the right Vietnamese music for you to try listening to.

About the author


Editor at HueFlavor is a15-year local guide, Mr. Ho Thom, who loves local food in Hue as well as in Vietnam. Trusted by hundreds of guests around the world.