A pair of recordings giving a captivating snapshot of Cambodia’s traditional music nearly 40 years ago have just been re-released
Almost four decades after their original release, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the non-profit record label of the national museum of the US, has re-released two albums of traditional Cambodian music.
Cambodia: Royal Music and Cambodia: Folk and Ceremonial Music showcase the best of traditional Cambodian music, which has its roots in the ninth century and the early Khmer Empire.
Cambodia: Royal Music, recorded in 1971, features royal Khmer music performed by the Royal Palace orchestra and choir. Stemming from the Angkorian era, Royal music was performed by grand ensembles, made up of hundreds of musicians, with instruments indigenous to Southeast Asia, such as bronze gongs and bamboo xylophones. These orchestras performed to kings and Brahmins (the highest ranking caste).
Cambodia: Folk and Ceremonial Music, recorded between 1966 and 1968, features smaller orchestras and solo performances of more diverse and indigenous instruments. It also includes music that is traditionally used at weddings, boxing matches and traditional theatres.
This re-release is part of the Unesco Collection of Traditional Music, a record label that has compiled the traditional music of more than 70 countries, including African pygmies, Portuguese fado, French bagpipes, and Canadian Inuit music.
The albums can be sampled or purchased here:
“The past is a foreign country” – Longing for the Past: The 78rpm Era in Southeast Asia, a recently released four-disc box set, provides a fascinating insight into music nearly forgotten