|Noted musician: Professor Nguyen Vinh Bao (sitting, with certificate) receives the Prime Minister's Certificate of Merit for his contributions to Vietnamese music. — VNS Photo Thanh Hiep
HCM CITY (VNS) — Musician and researcher Prof Nguyen Vinh Bao has been conferred the Prime Minister's Certificate of Merit for his contributions to Vietnamese music.
HCM City authorities organised a presentation ceremony at the 96-year-old artist's home in Binh Thanh District.
Bao was honoured for his work in researching, preserving, and developing traditional music, particularly tai tu, a traditional southern genre.
Through his work Bao spread Vietnamese culture and traditional art, particularly to the outside world.
He was born in 1918 in a traditional family in Dong Thap Province's Sa Dec District (now Cao Lanh city).
He wrote his first pieces of tai tu when he was just six. They are for kim or nguyet (two-chord guitar) and nhi (two-chord fiddle), two iconic Vietnamese musical instruments
In 1955 he worked as a lecturer at the Sai Gon National Music School.
He passed on the torch to several generations who have gone on to improve and develop traditional music.
He played many instruments like the dan bau (monochord) and dan tranh (16-chord zither). He improved the latter, creating zithers with 17, 18 and 19 chords that are more melodious.
In 1969 he was invited to perform and talk about Vietnamese music in Japan.
A year later he was invited by Southern Illinois University in the US, where he spent two years teaching Vietnamese music.
He showed off his skill at making guitars and violins at several universities and cultural centres in France.
Since 1975 he as given many talks on traditional music to locals and foreigners, including students and artists.
He wrote or edited many books and documents in three languages —Vietnamese, French and English — on traditional music that also taught how to play music.
In 2005 the Government conferred on him the Dao Tan Award for his contribution to tai tu.
In 2008 he received the Officier des Arts et des Lettres from French Government in recognition of his contributions to and propagation of art and literature.
He still teaches and encourages students to learn traditional music and folk songs, especially lullabies. — VNS