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Genres You Will Love
Pop: Quirky Moods: Instrumental World: Asian- Southeast

By Location
United States - California

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Jason R. Nguyen (a.k.a. SoulGook) began studying the Vietnamese traditional instrument known as the Đàn Bầu in 2002, becoming apprenticed to a world-renowned đàn bầu master, with whom he lived and studied every summer for five years.

The persona of SoulGook (a pseudonym from the days when he regularly joined freestyle rap ciphers) is his performative encapsulation of the complexities of Vietnamese American identity. It hints at the multiple expressive forms that have spoken to him throughout his life, from the raw social commentary of hip hop to the nostalgia-laden melodies of Vietnamese folk opera.

The Đàn Bầu has only a single string, but through a special playing technique involving harmonics and pitch bending, it can play any melody within a three-octave range. Trained in multiple genres of Vietnamese traditional music, SoulGook applies his knowledge of the instrument to make music that brings Vietnamese folk culture together with contemporary popular music.