Traditional Songs: Vietnamese Lullaby Songs

Lullaby songs are a sort of folk music often heard in Vietnam, especially in the countryside. They are used not only to lull small children to go to sleep but also to express human feelings such as homesickness, wife missing her husband…

Vietnamese Lullaby Songs

Rarely do the songs express direct feelings towards the child the singer may hold in her arms.

o au o. The lights in Sai Gon are green and red,
The lamps in My Tho are bright and dim,
May you go home to read your books,
I shall wait nine months, I shall wait ten autumns,….

Vietnamese lullabies often consist of two or four six-to-eight meter lines. They are usually based upon a characteristic frame of melody, and use slow, free rhythms. They also contain many inseted words such as “au a”, “o”, “hoi”…

au o. The wooden bridge is bound with nails,
The bamboo bridge is rough and difficult to cross…

As the function of a lullaby song is to make the child slowly fall into sleep, the song is quiet, the tones stretched and melodious. Perhaps that is the reason why there is little dialogue between the mother and the child.

In the autumn wind Mum will lull you to sleep
I sit up during all the five watches of the night…