|Reading music: Readers at the HCM City General Sciences Library. — Photo courtesy of the library|
HCM CITY— The HCM City General Sciences Library will open a new research room for traditional Vietnamese music as part of its activities to celebrate 40 years of working under its current name.
The research room will include hundreds of documents, books, dictionaries, videos, cassette tapes and CDs about Vietnamese folk songs and music as well as ancient musical instruments like the đàn bầu (monochord) and đàn tranh (16-chord zither).
The collections were all donated by the late professor Trần Văn Khê, a world-renowned ethnomusicologist specialising in traditional Vietnamese music.
Professor Khê defended his doctoral dissertation on traditional Vietnamese music in Paris in 1958, becoming the first Vietnamese to earn a doctoral degree in music.
He later worked for France’s prestigious Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (National Centre of Scientific Research), and taught at Sorbonne University.
He was elected a member of UNESCO’s International Council of Music.
Khê spent his life introducing Asian music and Việt Nam’s culture and music to the world. He attended more than 220 international conferences on music, and wrote more than 200 articles on various international magazines.
He received several top prizes at international music festivals. In 1991, he received the Officer de l’Ordre des Arts des Letters presented by the Ministry of Culture and Information of France.
Thanks to his contributions, three traditional Vietnamese musical forms, nhã nhạc (court music), quan họ (northern love duals), and gongs, received official recognition from UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World.
In 2005, Khê returned to live in HCM City and often gave talks on traditional music to music students and artists.
He received the Labour Medal in 1999 from the HCM City People’s Committee and the HCM City Medal in 2013 from the Government.
He died in 2015 at the age of 95.
The library’s experts have worked more than two years on the research room.
All information, photos, and images of the music will be digitalised for ease of research and use.
Computers and PCs for low-vision visitors will also be installed.
The room is expected to open this year.
Beginning its activities in 1978, the HCM City General Sciences Library is the region’s largest library and offers 2.7 million titles, including documents, books, newspapers and magazines,
It also includes 7,000 publications printed in the 17th -19th centuries, according to the library’s director Bùi Xuân Đức.
“Our library serves as a deposit library for renowned international organisations like the World Bank, UNESCO, and Food and Agricultural Organization. We also hold a book exchange agreement with more than 30 libraries and information centers across the globe,” he added.
The library, which attracts around 1.2 million visitors each year, plans to spend VNĐ15 billion (US$658,000) to digitalise all of its items and connect with 24 district libraries in the city by 2020. — VNS