A Few Souvenirs With My Master Gilbert Rouget
by Trần Quang Hải
I was lucky for having been trained by Gilbert Rouget between 1962 and 1964 in the introductory courses in ethnomusicology at the Institute of Ethnology in Paris.
In 1968, Mr. Rouget created the “RCP 165” at the CNRS. He hired me as his technical collaborator in the field of proto-Indochinese musics of Vietnam.
Thanks to him, one year later I discovered Mongolian overtone singing among the recordings made by Roberte Hamayon. This discovery encouraged me to do thorough research on this method of singing with two simultaneous voices. This led to a 47‐year continuous research project, resulting in several awards, in particular the Medal of Crystal from the CNRS in 1995, and the Legion of Honour award in 2002.
In 1984, Mr. Rouget asked me to transcribe his recordings from a repertoire of songs of the Queens of Porto Novo (Republic of Benin, formerly Dahomey). It was a titanic work consisting of two years of musical transcriptions and 14 years of heated debates with Mr. Rouget, resulting in the publication in 1996 of a book titled An African King and His Court Music, which earned the “Grand Prix du Disque” in the category of musical literature from the Académie Charles Cros.
This rich collaboration has been precious for my education in ethnomusicology: detailed work, patience without nervousness, and transcription method for nontempered traditional music.
During my posting at the Department of Ethnomusicology (41 years from 1968 to 2009), I had the chance to participate in numerous publications, among those a very beautiful box of three CDs Voices of the World that we offered Mr. Rouget for his 80th birthday.
Thus, 20 years have gone by… After my retirement in 2009, I have continued to see Mr. Rouget in his apartment in Paris several times a year, to show him how intensely I always think of him, and how deeply I truly love him as my spiritual father.
Trần Quang Hải with Gilbert Rouget, during Rouget’s 100th birthday celebration.
Photo provided by Trần Quang Hải.
ICTM of the INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL for TRADITIONAL MUSIC
No. 132, October 2016
ISSN (Online): 2304-4039