Monday, September 02, 2013

"The 95-year-old keeping traditional Vietnamese music alive."

I'm not sure how the syncopated spoons fit the musical dimensions of Vinh Bao's traditional Vietnamese music, but it is fascinating nonetheless.

The 95-year-old keeping traditional Vietnamese music alive, by Justin Rowlatt (BBC World Service)

... Vietnamese music is a product of the tonal nature of the Vietnamese language. A word with a high rising tone cannot be sung with a falling melody, and vice versa. So melodic forms have developed that allow improvised changes of notes to fit the tones of the words used.

He says that is why there is such an emphasis on what he calls "ornamentation", on bending and embellishing the note - another reason traditional music often appears "out of tune" to the Western ear.

"That is why it has been so difficult to keep the Nhac Tai Tu Nam Bo form alive," he says, clearly frustrated. "The West displays to the Vietnamese young people its flawless instruments, its accurate notation, its varied repertoire, its orchestration, and its disciplined orchestras," says Vinh Bao.

"It is hard to get them interested in old-fashioned instruments," he tells me, sweeping a hand towards the collection that adorns the walls of the small room.

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