Passed down orally for many generations, traditional Vietnamese folk music is extremely diverse and includes many distinct types that vary based on region, purpose, performer and subject matter. Most traditional Vietnamese folk music has its roots in shared village life, countryside work, and festivals, rituals and celebrations.
Some types of Vietnamese folk music, such as hat then and hat van, are used to praise deities, describe familiar epics or ask for heavenly assistance. Other types of folk music, including cai luong, tuong and cheo opera, are primarily designed for theatrical or operatic performances. Another type of traditional Vietnamese folk music is the simple lullaby, sung most often by mothers. Written in rhythmic stanzas, traditional lullabies teach children through proverbs about history, love and family.
Depending on the type, traditional Vietnamese folk music incorporates any number of the language's distinct tones along with changes of pitch and scale. Accompanying musical instruments may include traditional bronze drums, gongs and string instruments.