Reseacher Nguyen Vinh Bao and his contribution to Vietnam’s music

(VOVWORLD) - Musician and researcher Nguyen Vinh Bao passed away at his home in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap last week at the age of 104. Bao made significant contributions to researching, preserving and developing Vietnam’s traditional music, particularly "Tai tu" music, the prototype for "Vong co" (nostalgia) and "Cai luong" (reformed opera) in the south.

Reseacher Nguyen Vinh Bao and his contribution to Vietnam’s music  - ảnh 1Nguyen Vinh Bao meets with his fans in 2019. (Photo: VOV)

Nguyen Vinh Bao was born in a Confucian family in Dong Thap Province. He was introduced to traditional music early and had a passion for folk music.

Bao started playing the Vietnamese traditional musical instruments Don Kim (the moon-shaped lute) and Don Co (two-stringed fiddle) at five and other kinds at 10. He reformed Dan Tranh (16-string zither) by adding the number of strings to 17, 19 and then 21 to increase the pitch range and improve the volume range of the instrument. Bao’s eldest daughter Nguyen Thi Thu Anh said that in addition to music, her father taught her a lot about life.

"In addition to being my lifelong music teacher, my father taught me a lot about how to live a good life, to sacrifice for others and to forgive when possible. He always told me not to harm other people," said Thu Anh.

In 2005, the government bestowed Bao with the Dao Tan Award for his contribution to “Tai tu” music.

In 2008, he received the Officier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government in recognition of his contributions to art and literature.

In 2014, he was conferred the Prime Minister’s Certificate of Merit for his contributions to Vietnamese music.

One year later, he was honored with  the Phan Châu Trinh Awards for culture and education in recognition for his research and preservation of traditional southern music.

"He always shared all of his thoughts on Vietnamese music with us. He taught us a lot about traditional music, especially 'Tai tu' music and the ritual music of southern Vietnam. I’m proud of having such a great teacher. He gave us hope and inspired us with a love for traditional music as well as responsibility to protect and further promote it for future generations," said Vice President of Ho Chi Minh City’s Music Association Nguyen Thi My Liem, one of Bao’s many students. 

Reseacher Nguyen Vinh Bao and his contribution to Vietnam’s music  - ảnh 2An exhibition hall showcasing Nguyen Vinh Bao’s works and documents about his life and career in Dong Thap province. (Photo: VOV)

Bao has had many students across Vietnam and in foreign countries . Many of them have contributed greatly to the development of Vietnam’s traditional music.  

"Teacher Bao was very patient with us. He often encouraged us instead of demanding us. We were very young back then and his encouragement helped us pursue the music career that we chose," said Emeritus Teacher Pham Thuy Hoan, another student of Bao.

Musician Nguyen Vinh Bao said he did not want a big concert or have his name honored. His only wish was to preserve the uniqueness of Vietnamese music for the younger generations. In 2018, Dong Thap province launched an exhibition hall showcasing Bao’s works and documents about his life and career.

Considered a "living treasure" of ”tai tu” music, Nguyen Vinh Bao once said, “Music helps me to find truth. I do not want fame or wealth, I just want to dedicate my life to music until my last breath."