Vietnamese Bamboo Musical Instruments, What You Need to Know

One of my favorite musical performances is when there is a musical performance that includes some bamboo instruments. The bamboo musical instruments produce a very unique and interesting sound.

Bamboo grows throughout Asia. Many Asian cultures have bamboo instruments as part of their traditional music. Vietnam is one country whose traditional music uses a lot of bamboo musical instruments. This is because Vietnam’s ethnic hill tribe minorities use the bamboo musical instruments in their music.

Vietnamese Bamboo Instruments at the Opera House

Bamboo Is A Familiar Asian Symbol

When most people think of bamboo, usually they will think about Asia. This is because bamboo is truly an Asian symbol. This is because throughout Asia some form of bamboo is grown.

If you want to learn more about the bamboo plant you can read the blog Bamboo – An Auspicious Plant For Your Home by clicking here. In this blog, you can learn all about bamboo and why bamboo is so important in Asia.

Bamboo many uses in Asia from food, to scaffolding for building construction to even traditional musical instruments. In almost all countries around Asia, you can find some kind of musical instrument that is made out of bamboo.

Hmong Panpipe
The Bamboo holes of the Hmong Panpipe.

The Bamboo Used to Make Vietnamese Musical Instruments

Many cultures around the world, make and use bamboo musical instruments. For example, the bamboo flute is one of the most recognized and also one of the oldest and most simple musical instruments around the world.

Vietnam has not only a bamboo flute but also many other bamboo instruments. Because of the nature of Vietnam’s bamboo, Vietnam’s bamboo musical instruments are unique and can give off a unique sound.

This is because Vietnam’s climate is conducive to making musical instruments out of bamboo. The Chinese and Philippine bamboo is generally thicker and has more closely spaced knots. Their kind of bamboo will give off a lower and also more opaque sound.

But the bamboo in Vietnam is able to produce a more pure and echoing sound. This is because the bamboo is thinner and has fewer knots than some other kinds of bamboo. This helps the Vietnamese bamboo musical instruments to be a unique musical instrument with a unique sound.

The Vietnamese have long used bamboo to create musical instruments as the instruments give out a distinctive musical sound and voice. These simple bamboo instruments are played at family and other communal events and festivals. In recent years the bamboo musical instruments have also performed in venues as the Hanoi Opera house with the National Orchestras and choirs.

Hanoi French School Children Singing to Bamboo Instruments

Types of Vietnamese Bamboo Instruments.

In Vietnam, bamboo is used to make three major kinds of musical instruments. The three kinds are: 1) wind musical instruments, 2) string musical instruments and 3) percussion musical instruments.

Generally speaking, the Vietnamese flute and panpipes are made of bamboo trunks. A panpipe is also called a syrinx. It is a wind instrument that is made of bamboo of various lengths tied together in a row and then blown across at the top. Each length will produce a different note and sound.

The Hmong in Vietnam uses a panpipe for their music which is made out of bamboo. The panpipe has holes in it in certain parts of the bamboo to give off different sounds. You would play the panpipe similar to how you may play a playing a flute or clarinet.

But not just bamboo is used for the bamboo musical instruments, but also bamboo leaves are used to create a sound. And bamboo is used too make bells, drum sticks, and also castanets, which are also known as clackers.

The Bamboo holes of the Hmong Panpipe.
The Bamboo holes of the Hmong Panpipe.

Vietnamese Ethnic Hill Tribes and Bamboo Musical Instruments

Many of Vietnam’s ethnic minority hill tribes have long used bamboo for their musical instruments. Some of the minorities in the Central Hill tribes of Vietnam will use bamboo for their two-string fiddles or their 16 string zither. Also, they have a monochord.

In fact, it can be said that almost all the ethnic groups in Vietnam have some form of traditional bamboo musical instruments that they use for their music. This is how important the bamboo musical instruments are to the culture and traditions of Vietnam’s Ethnic minority groups.

One reason why bamboo instruments are used so much is that they are simple yet at the same time can give off some distinctive sounds and music. Dr. Nguyen Thi Hoa Dang, a Vietnamese musical and bamboo musical expert in speaking of the bamboo musical instrument and Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups has said:

“Almost all the ethnic groups of Vietnam, including the Kinh, Hmong, Thai, Tay, Nung, Gia rai, and Ede, possess bamboo instruments. The best known Vietnamese bamboo instruments are the T’rung and the monochord, which are played and loved in many other countries. Other lesser-known instruments are the Krong Put, Dinh Pa, and Ko Ni of the Central Highlands. Vietnamese bamboo musical instruments are handmade.”

Dr. Nguyen Thi Hoa Dang

Where to Hear the Bamboo Instruments Performance?

One of the best places to hear the bamboo musical instruments performance is at the Hanoi Opera House. There have quite a few of the performances there with some bamboo instruments.

Visiting the Hanoi Opera house is really a treat in itself. You can find out more about the Hanoi Opera House schedule and what shows they have by clicking here.

You may also see some performances that include bamboo instruments if you travel up to see the hill tribes. This is because many of the ethnic hill tribes will use bamboo instruments for their music.

One of my favorite conductors and bamboo musicians is Dong Quang Vinh who is an amazing Vietnamese conductor and bamboo musician. Here is a great video he has produced that talks about these amazing instruments.

Vietnamese Bamboo Music – Dong Quang Vinh

Conclusion

The bamboo musical instruments are amazing musical instruments who produce some amazing sounds. Being able to hear these instruments in person is a real treat.

Related Questions

What is the Hanoi Old Quarters?

Hanoi’s Old Quarters has a very rich and varied history as it has long been the center of commerce in Hanoi and Vietnam. The Old Quarters uses the name of 36 Streets. Even though there are more than 36 streets in the Old Quarters area they call it 36 Streets due to the 36 guilds or crafts that were once sold there. Streets are named for the different products they once sold. One of the best ways to see the Old Quarters is by the Electric Bus or Golf Cart.

You can find out more about Hanoi’s Old Quarters by reading the blog Hanoi’s Old Quarters, Touring By the Electric Golf Cart by clicking here.

What Are Some Things to Do in Vietnam?

Vietnam is also a wonderful and exciting country to visit and is an amazing place to travel. For a first time visitor to Vietnam, we have compiled 32 Vietnam travel tips for the first time traveler to Vietnam. These 32 travel tips will help ensure you have the best trip possible in Vietnam.

You can read the blog on 32 Tips for First Time Travelers to Vietnam by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel from A Bus On A Dusty Road

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