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Traveling by Sound – Traditional Vietnamese Music

By Courtney Ridgel

Booking Coordinator, Courtney Ridgel traveled to Vietnam last May and reflects back on her interactive experience at The Truc Mai Music House:

Courtney tries her hand at playing the Ðàn Klôngpút, a rare instrument from the mountains of Vietnam
Courtney tries her hand at playing the Ðàn Klôngpút, a rare instrument from the mountains of Vietnam

Taking the time to listen and watch traditional music being performed is one of the best ways to really gain insight into a local culture.  For the Vietnamese, many stories and melodies are passed on and nurtured as part of their cultural identity.

Truc Mai House Music 1
Our hosts played a duet on bamboo xylophones, also known as ‘T’rung’ 
Truc Mai House Music 4
The stone lithophone, or Ðàn Ðá, is an ancient instrument that is believed to date back more than 3,000 years

One of the most unique and personal experiences for us in Vietnam was a visit the Truc Mai Music House in Saigon.   This family specializes in traditional Vietnamese music and performs all over the world.  They have a large collection of traditional instruments such as the monochord zither, bamboo xylophone, and stone lithophone in their home.  We were warmly welcomed inside and served hot tea, which we sipped while our hosts performed a private show for us in their living room.  This family studies and performs melodies from all across Vietnam and they really enjoyed explaining the origins and significance of each instrument.  As both of us come from a musical background, we were blown away when our hosts offered to let us try out the instruments ourselves after the performance!

Truc Mai House Music 5
Evan tries out the monochord zither or Đàn bầu