Monostring Chordophone - Ðàn Bâ`u

If one sound had to be chosen to evoke Vietnam, it would be the sound of dan bau. The structure of the dan bau is very simple. It consists of a long piece of wood on which a silk or brass string is stretched, and fastened at one end by a peg, and tied at the other end by a flexible bamboo plate. The string is passed repeatedly through an open dried gourd (bâ`u) used as a sound box. Dan bau does not have any frets.

According to Vietnamese legend, dan bau has traditionally played in the groups of blind musicians, because only the blinds have greatest hearing sense to listen to the magical sounds of this instrument. Today, dan bau takes part in the ensembles of cheo, cai luong theatrical music, and even in modern music as you can see in Asia Entertainment Videos.




Four-String Lute - Ðàn Ðáy

Dan Day has four strings, and a very long neck.   Its resonator box has a shape of a trapezoid rather than a rectangle.

Dan Day is usually used to accompany the voices of professional singers - A Dao, a singing style that is typical in North Vietnam. This instrument is made of timber wood.




Sun Lute - Ðàn Ðoa?n

Dan Doan has a shape of the sun therefore sometimes people call it - Dan Nhat (DDàn Nhâ.t). It has 5 strings, a short neck, and the frets are right on the resonator box. It is very similar to Dan Nguyet (check below).




Moon Lute - Nguyê.t Câ`m

The Southerners of Vietnam refer to this instrument as Dan Kim (DDàn Kìm). Dan Nguyet has two strings and the resonator box resembles the moon, that is probably why it has the name Dan Nguyet.

Dan Nguyet has a transparent sound. Depend on the songs, Dan Nguyet sometimes can sound lively, and spirited, and sometimes it may sound moanful, and sad. It is very rich in musical expression.

This instrument has quite an important role in Vietnamese traditional music. Dan Nguyet has 2 strings.




Three-String Lute - Ðàn Tam

As the name indicated, this lute composed of three silk strings. Dan Tam can have very high sound. The tension of every string can vary freely to produce melodious sounds. One intestestring thing is that Dan Tam is fretless, The sound-box is usally decorated or covered with snake skin




16-String Zither - Ðàn Tranh

Dan Tranh is also known as Dan Thap Luc (Ðàn Thâ.p Lu.c - 16) with 16 strings. Its shape resembles a bamboo tube that has been sliced vertically in half. Dan tranh has mostly been seen performed by female musicians in Vietnamese traditional dress (Ao Dai). When play, the instrument is placed in front of the musician, who uses her right hand to regulate the pitch and vibrate, while plucking the strings with her left hand.

Dan Tranh's strings are supported by movable wooden bridge for tuning. There are Dan Tranh that have more than 16 strings.




Pear-Shaped Lute - Ðàn Ty` Bà

Dan Ty Ba has a pear-shaped sound-box that becomes narrow toward its upper end to form the neck. This instrument has 4 strings of braided silk.

Dan Ty Ba was indispensable in the ancient eight-instrument musical bands. The ty ba was mainly used in royal court orchestras, and was rarely seen in popular musical bands.




Short Lute - Ðàn Xên

Dan Xen is a musical instrument that belongs to the lute family. Dan Xen ony has 2 strings, and its resonator box forms a flower.

Dan Xen is often seen in Vietnamese classical theatrical opera - Hat Boi (Hát Bô.i). This singing is Southern Vietnamese's style.


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