Local Legend in the Limelight: Mr. Dau, The Guardian of Vietnam’s Traditional Music

In the bustling heart of Saigon, there lives a man who is passionate about traditional Vietnamese music, dedicating his life to preserving and promoting the music of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. With a vibrant and outgoing personality, Mr. Dau not only performs but also educates, ensuring that the stories and sounds of his beloved country resonate far beyond its borders.

A Journey Rooted in Passion

Mr. Dau’s journey into the world of music began in Hanoi, where his family had their local business. Despite his family’s wishes for him to become a doctor, Mr. Dau’s heart beat to a different drum. Living next to a theatre, he was enchanted by the sound of the Vietnam monochord at the age of 15. This moment of enchantment led him to pursue the study of Vietnam’s traditional musical instruments.

At 18, Mr. Dau applied to the Military College of Culture and Arts, where his application was accepted. His time as a student was marked by a deep passion for percussion and the instruments of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. This passion led him in 1986 to begin collecting traditional musical instruments, amassing a significant collection representing each ethnic group of Vietnam, each with its own unique story.

Today, Mr. Dau’s home is a living museum of Vietnam’s traditional musical instruments. He proudly shares the stories of the instruments, from the Highland People’s drum to the North Eastern minority’s flute, some of which are over 300 years old. His collection is not merely purchased but earned through building trust and relationships with the people. To acquire these instruments, he often stayed in villages for extended periods, demonstrating his worthiness to the local communities as an advocate and voice of their people.

A Performer and Storyteller

A natural performer, Mr. Dau thrives in the presence of an audience. His energy is infectious, and his performances are more than just music—they are storytelling sessions that transport listeners to the villages and hills of Vietnam. He narrates love stories through the flute, recounts village life with the beats of the drum, and lets the lithophones echo the ancient traditions of the Highland minority groups.

Mr. Dau draws immense motivation from the appreciation of his audiences. “When people show their appreciation for our traditional music, it drives me to perform even better,” he says with a smile. His goal is to introduce traditional Vietnamese music to audiences worldwide, sharing the rich cultural narratives embedded in every note.

On our Vivu Journeys experience to Mr. Dau’s home in Saigon visitors are in for a memorable experience. His house, ingeniously constructed entirely from recycled materials, is a testament to his creativity. Here, in this extraordinary setting, guests are treated to a private music performance that showcases the beauty of Vietnamese traditional music.

Music of the Minorities

Mr. Dau’s life is a symphony of dedication, passion, and cultural pride. As he shares the music of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities with others, he invites everyone to join him on a journey through the rich tapestry of his country’s heritage. His unwavering love for his country and its music ensures that the traditions of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities will continue to enchant and his dedication and musical talent is truly inspirational.

For those fortunate enough to visit Mr. Dau’s home on our Local Legend experience, it is a chance to witness the magic of Vietnam’s traditional music, to hear the stories of its people, and to meet a man whose life is a living testament to the power of cultural preservation.

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