Cambodia Music and Dancing
Cambodian Art music is highly influenced by ancient forms as well as Hindu forms. Religious dancing, many of which depict stories and ancient myths, arecommon. Some dances are accompanied by a pinpeat orchestra, which includes a ching (cymbal), roneat (bamboo xylophone), pai au (flute), sralai (oboe), chapey (bass banjo), gong (bronze gong), tro (fiddle), and various kinds of drums. Each movement the dancer makes refers to a specific idea, including abstract concepts like today (pointing a finger upwards). The 1950s saw a revival in classical dance, led by queen sisowath Kosmak Monyrat .
Cambodian pop music, or modern music, is divided into two categories: ramvong and ramkbach. Ramvong is slow dance music, while ramkbach is closely related to Thai folk music. In the province Siem Reap, a form of music called Kantrum has become popular; originating among the Khmer Surin in Thailand, kantrum is famous for Thai and Cambodian stars like Darkie. Modern music is usually presented in Cambodian Karaoke VCDs, usually of an actor, actress or both making the actions, usually by mimicking the lyrics to the background song by moving their mouth as if they were actually singing the song. Noy Vannet and Lour Sarith are some of the modern singers who sing the songs for use with the Karaokes usually of the songs composed by Sin Sisamouth or others, in addition to the songs sung and composed by Sin Sisamouth himself.
Popular music singers
Famous Cambodian singers include: the very famous composer/singer Sinn Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea, Pan Ron (both of them being Sin Sisamouth's main singing partners) and present day singers: Noy Vannet, Meng Keo Pichenda and Lour Sarith. Other Cambodian singers include Chhet Sovan Panha and Preap Sovath.
Laos Music & Dance
As in other South-East Asian cultures, music in Laos can be divided into classical and folk traditions. The classical music is the least interesting, simply because it is so imitative of the classical traditions of Thailand and Cambodia. Lao classical music was originally developed as court music for royal ceremonies and classical dance-drama during the reign of Vientiane's Chao Anou, who had been educated in the Siamese court in Bangkok. The standard ensemble for this genre is the sep nyai and consists of khawng wong (a set of tuned gongs), the ranyaat (a xylophone-like instrument), the khui (bamboo flute) and the pii (a double-reed wind instrument similar to the oboe) - exactly the same instruments are used in the Thai pii-phda! ensemble.
The practice of classical Lao music and drama has been in decline for some time 40 years of intermittent war and revolution has simply made this kind of entertainment a low priority among most Lao. Generally, the only time you'll hear this type of music is during the occasional public performance of the Pha Lak Pha Lam, a dance-drama based on the Hindu Ramayana epic.
Not so with Lao folk music, which has al-ways stayed close to the people. The principal instrument in the folk genre is the khden (French spelling: khene), a wind instrument that is devised of a double row of bamboo like reeds fitted into a hardwood sound box and made air-tight with beeswax. The rows can be as Few as four or as many as eight courses (for a total of 16 pipes), and the instrument can vary in length from around 80cm to 2m. In the early 20th century there were also nine-course khaen but these have all but disappeared. The khaen player blows into the sound box while covering or uncovering small holes in the reeds that determine the pitch for each (as with a harmonica, sound is produced whether the breath is moving in or out of the instrument). An adept player can produce a churning, calliope-like music that you can dance to. The most popular folk dance is the lam wong (circle performance) in which couples dance circles around one another until there are three circles in all: a circle danced by the individual, a circle danced by the couple, and one danced by the whole crowd.
The khaen is often accompanied by the saw (sometimes written so), a bowed string instrument. In more elaborate ensembles the khui and khawng wong may be added, as well as various hand drums. Khaen music can also incorporate a vocalist. Most Lao pop music is based on vocal khaen music. Melodies are almost always pentatonic, ie, they feature five-note scales.
Myanmar Music and Dancing
The music of Burma (or Myanmar) has similarities with and is related to many other musical traditions in the region, including Chinese music and Thai music.
Traditional music from Burma is melodious, generally without harmony, and usually in 4/4 time (na-yi-se) or 2/4 (wa-let-se) or 8/16 (wa-let-a-myan). There are "the segments combined into patterns, combined into verses, combined into songs [that] make Burmese music a multileveled hierarchical system...The Burmese musician manipulates the various levels of the hierarchy to create the song..." (Becker 1969, p. 272)
Orthodox Theravada Buddhism frowns upon music as being decadent, but the Burmese monarchy as well as infusion of different regional music styles, created several classical traditions of Burmese music. The oldest influences may perhaps come from China, which shares a similar pentatonic musical scale as classical Burmese music. Other influences include Mon music (called Talaing than or "sounds of the Talaing [Mon]"), particularly in the Mahagita, the complete body of classical Burmese music. A prevailing one is called Yodaya, which is essentially a class of Burmese adaptations to songs accompanied with the saung gauk and come from the Ayutthaya kingdom (modern-day Thailand) during the reigns of Bayinnaung (1551–1581) and Hsinbyushin (1753–1776), which brought back a variety of cultural traditions including the Ramayana. The primary indigenous form is called thachin.
Burmese classical music ensembles can be divided into outdoor and indoor ensembles. The outdoor musical ensemble is the sidaw; also called sidawgyi, which was an outdoor ensembles in royal courts used to mark important ceremonial functions like the royal ploughing ceremony. It consists of a hnegyi, a large double reed pipe and sidaw, a pair of ceremonial drums, as well as the si and wa, a bell and clapper and the gandama, a double-headed drum. Today, sidaw music is played at festivals. Other instruments used in classical music include the saung (a harp) and pattala (a xylophone). The indoor form is the chamber music ensemble, which is basically a female singer accompanied by a traditional ensemble consisting of the saung, pattala, migyaung, a zither), palwe, a flute) and in the past, included the tayaw, a fiddle) and hnyin (a small mouth organ)
Translated as "great music" in Pali, the Mahagita is an extensive collection of Burmese classical songs, called thachin gyi. The collection is divided into several different types of songs, including the following: kyo, bwe, thachin gan, the oldest repertoires; pat pyo, royal court music; lwan chin, songs of longing; lay dway than gat; myin gin, music that makes horses dance; nat chin, songs used to worship the nat, Burmese spirits; yodaya, music introduced from Ayutthaya, Talaing than, music adapted from the Mon people and bole, songs of sorrow.
Burmese music includes a variety of folk traditions. A distinct form called the byaw, is often played at religious festivals and is sung to the beat of a long and thin drum, with occasional interruptions by the beating of a larger drum.
The traditional folk ensemble, typically used in the nat pwe, Burmese theater and art, and festivals is called the hsaing waing. Although its origin is unknown, it is believed to have come from the Ayuthaya kingdom, or in the least been heavily influenced by the Ayuthaya gong and drum ensembles in the 18th century through repeated invasions by the Konbaung dynasty and has many similarities to other Southeast Asian ensembles. The ensemble is made up of a series of drums and gongs, including the centerpieces, which are the hne (double reed pipe) and pat waing or hsaing wan, set of 21 tuned drums in a circle). Other instruments in this ensemble include the kyi waing, small bronze gongs in a circular frame) and maung hsaing, larger bronze gongs in a rectangular frame), as well as the si and wa (bell and clapper) and the recent addition of the chauk lone bat (a group of six drums which have gained currency since the early 20th century). Hsaing waing music, however, is atypical in Southeast Asian music, characterized by sudden shifts in rhythm and melody as well as change in texture and timbre
Western music gained much popularity in Burma starting from the 1930s. Despite government intervention at times, especially during the Socialist era, popular Burmese music has become considerably influenced by Western music, which consists of popular Western songs rendered in Burmese and pop music similar to other Asian pop tunes. Classical music was also introduced during the British occupation.
Rock music, called stereo in Burmese has been a popular form of music since the 1980s, having been introduced in the 1960s. Pop music emerged in the 1970s and was banned by state-run radio stations. However, many artists circumvented this censorship by producing albums in private studios and releasing them in music production shops. During the Socialist era, musicians and artists were subject to censorship by the Press Scrutiny Board and Central Registration Board, as well as laws like the State Protection Law. During this period, the arrival of various bands including the influential Thabawa Yinthwenge (The Wild Ones), which included lead singer Sai Htee Saing, an ethnic Shan in 1973, paved the way for ethnic minority musicians to gain visibility in the Burmese music industry. Sai Kham Leik is a well known composer.
During the 8888 Uprising, restrictions loosened and many artists began writing music with themes of freedom and democracy. However, after the State Law and Order Restoration Council usurped power in 1988, the Press Scrutiny Board was reformed to censor specific political and social issues, including poverty, the sex trade, democracy and human rights. The Myanmar Music Asiayon (MMA) was established by the SLORC to further censor Burmese-produced music. Popular musicians including Zaw Win Htut and Sai Htee Saing have produced propaganda albums written by military officers such as Mya Than San.
Hip hop and rap emerged in the late 1990s and is now the prevailing genre of music among Burmese youth today. Bands like Iron Cross, Emperor and BigBag are popular among the middle-aged and some groups of youth. There are hip-hop enthusiasts all over Burma with artists such as Ye Lay, Sai Sai, and J-me. Thus, there are many underground rock, punk and metalcore bands such as All Else I Fail, Last Day of Beethoven, Yakkhadeva, Temper Level VIII, Tha Ta Lin Chate, Idiots, Offkeys, etc. The prevalence of Burmese cover songs (particularly from Asia nowadays) has led to the adoption of "copy tune" and "own tune" to describe the origins of a song's melody.
In recent year's punk has been growing in popularity in Burma, just like many other southeast Asian nations. Modelling many 70s and 80s classic Western punk bands, Burmese punk shows a musical defiance that has not been seen before in Burma. In the German made 2012 documentary film "Yangon Calling" over a period of six weeks film-makers Alexander Dluzak and Carsten Piefke secretly filmed, as they documented the Burmese punks life, documenting everything from meeting friends and family, visiting rehearsals and filming secret concerts.
New websites that have poped up in recent years such as Myanmar Xbands have given attention to the Burmese punk scene along with other alternative Burmese music. The site has developed into a hub for artists to display their music to a Burmese and international audience for free download. While other Burmese punk bands like pop punk band Side Affect, turned to raising funds on IndeGoGo, to release their first album. The band just managed to raise enough funds to release their album in May 2012, shortly before their efforts fell short to international sanctions. However, other popular Burmese punk bands such as No Uturn or Rebel Riot has turned to self release, releasing their demo’s on popular download sites such as Myspace and Reverb Nation.
Musical instruments include the brass se (which is like a triangle), hne (a kind of oboe) and bamboo wa, as well as the well-known saung, a boat-shaped harp. Instruments are classified into six groups:
Instruments made of non-precious metals like brass or bronze: kyei
Instruments made from skin, hide or leather: thay-ye
String instruments: kyo
Wind instruments: lei
Clapper instruments: let-ko
Xylophone instruments: Patala
These instruments are played in a musical scale consisting of seven tones, each associated with an animal that is said to be the producer of the tone. Each tone can be played raised, lowered or natural (corresponding to sharp, flat or natural), resulting a possible twenty-one combinations. The pat waing drum circle, for example, consists of twenty-one drums, one tuned to each tone in each possible combination, and the saing saya (maestro) sits in the middle using various parts of his hands to strike the drums in order to produce a melody. The Kyi Waing is the gong circle strung up in the same fashion and the gongs are struck with a knobbed stick and in accompaniment to the pat waing.
Thailand Music and Dancing
The music of Thailand reflects its geographic position at the intersection of China and India, and reflects trade routes that have historically included Persia, Africa, Greece and Rome. Thai musical instruments are varied and reflect ancient influence from far afield - including the klong thap and khim (Persian origin), the jakhe (Indian origin), the klong jin (Chinese origin), and the klong kaek (Indonesian origin). Though Thailand was never colonized by colonial powers, pop music and other forms of modern Asian, European and American music have become extremely influential. The two most popular styles of traditional Thai music are luk thung and mor lam; the latter in particular has close affinities with the Music of Laos.
Thai classical music is synonymous with those stylized court ensembles and repertoires that emerged in its present form within the royal centers of Central Thailand some 800 years ago. These ensembles, while being deeply influenced by Khmer and even older practices and repertoires from India, are today uniquely Thai expressions. While the three primary classical ensembles, the Piphat, Khrueang sai and Mahori differ in significant ways, they all share a basic instrumentation and theoretical approach. Each employ the small ching hand cymbals and the krap wooden sticks to mark the primary beat reference. Several kinds of small drums (klong) are employed in these ensembles to outline the basic rhythmic structure (natab) that is punctuated at the end by the striking of a suspended gong (mong). Seen in its most basic formulation, the classical Thai orchestras are very similar to the Cambodian (Khmer) pinpeat and mahori ensembles, and structurally similar to other orchestras found within the widespread Southeast Asian gong-chime musical culture, such as the large gamelan of Bali and Java, which most likely have their common roots in the diffusion of Vietnamese Dong-Son bronze drums beginning in the first century FACE.
Traditional Thai classical repertoire is anonymous, handed down through an oral tradition of performance in which the names of composers (if, indeed, pieces were historically created by single authors) are not known. However, since the beginning of the modern Bangkok period, composers' names have been known and, since around the turn of the century, many major composers have recorded their works in notation. Musicians, however, imagine these compositions and notations as generic forms which are realized in full in idiosyncratic variations and improvisations in the context of performance. While the composer Luang Pradit Phairau (1881–1954) used localized forms of cipher (number) notation, other composers such as Montri Tramote (1908–1995) used standard western staff notation. Several members of the Thai royal family have been deeply involved in composition, including King Prajatipok (Rama VII, 1883–1941) and King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927–), whose compositions have been more often for jazz bands than classical Thai ensembles.
Classical Thai music is polyphonic and follows similar conventions to American Folk and Dixieland Music. Each instrument improvises within accepted idioms around basic lines of harmony or melody called paths. Rhythmically and metrically Thai music is steady in tempo, regular in pulse, divisive, in simple duple meter, without swing, with little syncopation (p. 3, 39), and with the emphasis on the final beat of a measure or group of pulses and phrase (p. 41), as opposed to the first as in European-influenced music. The Thai scale includes seven tempered notes, instead of a mixture of tones and semitones. Five of seven pitches are used as the principal pitches in any mode, introducing nonequidistant intervals
The most common and iconic Thai classical music that symbolizes the dancing of the Thailand's legendary dragons, a midsized orchestra including two xylophones (ranat), an oboe (pi), barrel drums (klong) and two circular sets of tuned horizontal gong-chimes (khong wong lek and khong wong yai). Piphat can be performed in either a loud outdoor style using hard mallets(Piphat mai khaeng; ปี่พาทย์ไม้แข็ง) or in an indoor style using padded hammers(Piphat mai nuam; ปี่พาทย์ไม้นวม). There are several types of piphat ensembles ranging in size and orchestration, each kind typically being associated with specific ceremonial purposes. The highly decorated piphat ensemble that features the ornately carved and painted semicircular vertical gong-chime is traditionally associated with the funeral and cremation ceremonies of the Mon ethnic group. Different versions of the piphat ensemble are employed to accompany specific forms of traditional Thai drama such as the large shadow puppet theater (nang yai) and the khon dance drama.
The Khrueang Sai orchestra combines some of the percussion of wind instruments of the piphat with an expanded string section including the saw duang (a high-pitched two-string bowed lute), the lower pitched saw u (bowed lute) and the three-string jakhe (a plucked zither). In addition to these instruments are the khlui (vertical fipple flute) in several sizes and ranges, a goblet drum (thon-rammana) and, occasionally, a small hammered Chinese dulcimer (khim). The khrueang sai ensemble is primarily used for instrumental indoor performances and for accompanying the Thai hoon grabok (stick-puppet theater), a genre deeply influenced by Chinese puppetry styles. Accordingly, the addition of Chinese-sounding string instruments in the khrueang sai ensemble is imagined, by the Thai, to be a reference to the probable Chinese origins of this theater form.
The third major Thai classical ensemble is the Mahori, traditionalquot;sans-serifly played by women in the courts of both Central Thailand and Cambodia. Historically the ensemble included smaller instruments more appropriate, it was thought, to the build of female performers. Today the ensemble employs regular sized instruments—a combination of instruments from both the Khruang Sai and Piphat ensembles but excluding the loud and rather shrill oboe pi. The ensemble, which is performed in three sizes—small, medium and large—includes the three-string saw sam sai fiddle, a delicate-sounding, middle-range bowed lute with silk strings. Within the context of the Mahori ensemble, the so sam sai accompanies the vocalist, which plays a more prominent role in this ensemble than in any other classical Thai orchestra.
While Thai classical music was somewhat discouraged as being unmodern and backward looking during Thailand's aggressively nationalistic modernization policies of mid-20th century, the classical arts have benefited recently from increased governmental sponsorship and funding as well as popular interest as expressed in such films as Homrong: The Overture (2003), a popular fictionalized biography of a famous traditional xylophone (ranat ek) performer.
Traditional or folk
Luk thung, or Thai country music, developed in the mid-20th century to reflect daily trials and tribulations of rural Thais. Pongsri Woranut and Suraphol Sombatcharoen were the genre's first big stars, incorporating influences from, Asia. Many of the most popular artists have come from the central city of Suphanburi, including megastar Pumpuang Duangjan, who pioneered electronic luk thung. The late 90's saw a commercial resurgence of Luk Thung, and the modern electrified, pop-influenced version of the genre remains the country's most popular music form.
Main article: Mor lam
Mor lam is the dominant folk music of Thailand's north-eastern Isan region, which has a mainly Lao population. It has much in common with luk thung, such as its focus on the life of the rural poor. It is characterized by rapid-fire, rhythmic vocals and a funk feel to the percussion. The lead singer, also called a mor lam, is most often accompanied by the khaen, also known as khene.
There are about fifteen regional variations of mor lam, plus modern versions such as mor lam sing. Some conservatives have criticized these as the commercialization of traditional cultures.
See also: Music of Laos
The people of Isan are also known for kantrum, which is much less famous than mor lam. Kantrum is played by Khmer living near the border with Cambodia. It is a swift and very traditional dance music. In its purest form, cho-kantrum, singers, percussion and tro (a type of fiddle) dominate the sound. A more modern form using electric instrumentation arose in the mid-1980s. Later in the decade, Darkie became the genre's biggest star, and he crossed into mainstream markets in the later 1990s.
Vietnam Music and Dancing
Music in Vietnamese theatre includes hat tuong, hat cheo and cai luong.
- Cheo (popular opera):
Cheo is an original synthesis of folk songs, dance, and narration. Cheo is the oldest surviving form of Vietnamese opera. It began in the 11th century while tuong arrived in the 13th century from China for the entertainment of the royalty.
- Quan Ho singing:
The birth place of quan ho folk songs in Ha Bac province. Quan ho is the other form of music in Vietnam. It is most popular in Bac Ninh Province and Bac Giang Province. Many variations to this Quan ho exist especially in Northern Vietnam. Sometimes it is also improvised and is used in courtship rituals. Ho is somewhat the southern version of Quan ho with love, courtship and the countryside as the common themes.
- Tuong (classical opera):
The tuong theatre was formed in the 12th century, and in the 17th century it was very much in vogue.
- Cai Luong (renovated opera):
In comparison with cheo and tuong, cai luong is a new type of theatre.
- Water puppetry:
Puppetry is common throughout the would, but Vietnam's puppet theatre on water is unique. The art of water puppetry appeared in the Ly dynasty (1010-1225).
- Ca Tru:
Ca Tru, an original art performance of academic character, has been preserved for the past 10 centuries…
There is the Lion’s dance, a popular dance in Vietnam, that is celebrated in North Vietnam on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Year, and the Unicorn dance in South Vietnam on the Tet holidays. While in the north the dance takes place at night, the people in the south perform it during the day.