Musical Instruments of Vietnam's Ethnic Minorities

Tô Ngọc Thanh


Descriptive book about the musical instruments of Vietnam's ethnic minorities by Vietnamese ethnomusicologist Tô Ngọc Thanh.
Includes many photos and transcriptions of music of the tribes.

There are 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam recognized by the Vietnamese government. Each ethnicity has their own language, tradition, and culture, including music, and often unique instruments.
The majority of the people living in Vietnam are the ethnic Viet or Kinh (73.6 million, or 85.7 per cent).
Most of the remaining 53 official ethnic groups (although not all of the country’s minorities or indigenous peoples are part of this officially recognized list) inhabit the interior mountainous and highlands, though some, such as the Khmer Krom, Hoa and Lao, are concentrated in the cities or lowlands. Most of the other many remaining minorities tend to live in the mountains of the north, down the Truong Son mountain range, and in the central highlands.

Although Vietnam voted in favour of UNDRIP, the government does not recognize ethnic minorities as indigenous peoples. Instead, the government uses the term “ethnic minority” to refer to everyone but the Kinh majority.
There is great diversity in Vietnam’s ethnic groups. One minority group, the Hoa (ethnic Chinese), is very well assimilated into Vietnamese culture, and are important in the Vietnamese economy. Because of this, they are not usually considered an “ethnic minority”. Others, such as the Hmong and Nung peoples, have agrarian livelihoods and remain strongly culturally connected to forests, in which they live in harmony with, and worship spirits. These cultures are under threat of extinction by forced assimilation by the Vietnamese government, and Christian missionary work by Westerners.

This books shines light on the diversity of the music and culture of the minorities of Vietnam, by focussing on their unique instruments.

  • 99 pages
  • Paperback
  • Language: English
  • Published in: 1997
  • Published by: The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi