Unit 4: Vietnamese Music with Cecilia
Vietnam’s music reflects the different groups that have lived there. The music that is heard today spans traditional folk, ceremonial, and popular music. The music of Vietnam is very diverse and has many influences from the different indigenous regions within Vietnam, surrounding countries, and the time of French occupation to name a few. Each region has its own dialect and cultural influences on music, food, and traditional instruments. Some specific characteristics of traditional Vietnamese music are the use of vocal vibrato, the use of the pentatonic scale and traditional instruments like the đàn Tranh (16-string zither) and T’ru’ng (bamboo xylophone).
Vietnamese folk songs tell stories of life and traditions from different regions of Vietnam and are accompanied by traditional Vietnamese instruments. Each song has a beautiful musical story of the Vietnamese people and may be as much as 4,000 years old. They began in northern Vietnam by the ancient Viet people and spread south as the Viet kings and queens acquired more land. Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam are three of the main historical, geographical, and cultural regions within Vietnam. The Vietnamese language is tonal, and the music of the various regions of Vietnam are distinguished by the subtle differences in the accents, grace notes, and use of vibrato.
Cecilia Arango shares her Vietnamese heritage in a variety of ways in the Savannah community. Cecilia’s dad was from the south-central coastal city of Nha Trang and was in the Navy. Her mom was a nun from Bien Hoa province of South Vietnam. Because of the Vietnam War and the rise in communism, they fled Vietnam to seek refuge in the United States where they met each other in Columbus, Georgia. Cecilia’s family moved to Savannah when she was a young girl, and she and her children attended Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. She is thrilled to bring herself and her culture to the program.
Lesson 1: Learning “Hò Hụi Huế”
Students will learn to sing “Hò Hụi Huế,” explore movement and song in community settings, and discover traditional Vietnamese instruments.
Go to Lesson 1: Learning “Hò Hụi Huế” →
Lesson 2: Exploring “Cô Đôi Thượng Ngàn”
Students will learn to sing “Cô Đôi Thượng Ngàn,” discuss Vietnamese rhythm, explore tonal language, and create their own Queen of the Forest.
Go to Lesson 2: Exploring “Cô Đôi Thượng Ngàn”→
Tran Quang Hai, renowned Vietnamese musician, is interviewed and explains some of the elements of traditional Vietnamese music. Contains many examples of traditional instruments.
Geography & Supporting Information: https://www.cdm.org/voyagetovietnam/cities.html
- Awakening the Soul with the Left Hand: Narration and Healing in Vietnam’s Diasporic Traditional Music, by Alexander M. Cannon
- Meaningful Conduits by Anil Prasad