Street life in Vietnam has many interesting aspects that can impress visitors. One of them is street singing, which is very popular in big cities.
Like American’s street artists, those singers perform in street in order to gain tips from people who pass by. But if American’s street artists usually have their fixed place for their shows, Vietnamese singers often wander along the streets or drop in small restaurants and perform songs requested by the customers.
Another big difference is that American street artists usually sing cheerful or happy songs, Vietnamese singers nearly always perform sad songs, mainly old ones to win the empathy from audiences.
Vietnamese street singers sometimes are disabled people, like the blind, dumb and crippled. They often go in group, 2-3 people with a singer, a musician who plays guitar or “dan nhi” – a traditional instrument of Vietnam, and the other carry an amplifier to louder the sound. The guitar, if any, most of the time just has 5 strings only, since folk songs of Vietnam are based on pentatonic scale.
They do not necessarily ask for tips, but many people love their songs so much and keep giving them money as a kind of support. Street singers are much more popular in the South than in the North, due to the fact that folk songs are more interested by Southern people.
Not many young people like them, but old people love these singers so much, because nowadays folk songs are less and less popular in entertainment form. Street singers and street songs as well contribute to making the image of Vietnam more interesting in visitors’ eyes.