102-year-old musician Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo, a researcher of tài tử music, a genre of traditional music unique to southern Việt Nam, introduces his book Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo – Những Giai Điệu Cuộc Đời (Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo – Melodies of Life) in Đồng Tháp Province. — Photo baodongthap.vn
ĐỒNG THÁP — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Đồng Tháp has released a book on life and career of 102-year-old musician Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo, a researcher of tài tử music, a genre of traditional music unique to southern Việt Nam.
The 350-page book, Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo – Những Giai Điệu Cuộc Đời (Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo – Melodies of Life), includes photos on Bảo’s daily life and his career activities. It also features articles about his great contributions to preserving and developing tài tử music.
Tài tử music is considered the prototype for vọng cổ (nostalgia) and cải lương (reformed opera) of the south. It began about 100 years ago and is associated with farmers who sing in the fields or while relaxing at the end of a hard day.
The music is performed at traditional festivals, weddings and death anniversaries in southern provinces.
In 2013, it was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo – Những Giai Điệu Cuộc Đời is written and compiled by well-known Vietnamese music researchers led by Professor Nguyễn Thuyết Phong, and printed by the Việt Nam Writers’ Association Publishing House.
Born in Sa Đéc Province (now Đồng Tháp), Bảo wrote his first pieces of tài tử when he was just six. They are for kìm or nguyệt (two-chord guitar) and nhị (two-chord fiddle), two iconic Vietnamese musical instruments.
He played many instruments like the đàn bầu (monochord) and đàn tranh (16-chord zither). He improved the latter, creating zithers with 17, 18 and 19 chords that are more melodious.
He has travelled to many countries, such as Japan and the US, to perform and offer lessons and talks about Vietnamese music.
He wrote and edited many books and documents on traditional music and how to play music in three languages of Vietnamese, French and English.
In 2008, Bảo received the Officier des Arts et des Lettres from French Government in recognition of his contributions to and propagation of art and literature.
He was conferred the Prime Minister’s Certificate of Merit for his contributions to Vietnamese music in 2014.
Bảo has gifted his new books to schools and libraries to encourage young people to learn about traditional music and folks songs. — VNS