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Traditional Khmer Percussion Instruments
These musical instruments are used in the “pin peat”(ពិណពាទ្យ) orchestra; the ensemble used for religious occasions and classical dances.
The descriptions are taken from;
“Traditional Musical Instruments of Cambodia. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Printed by Japan Sotoshu Relief Committee (JSRC). Cambodia; 1994.”
RONEAT EK (រនាតឯក)
is a percussion instrument that is tuned to pitch and is quite similar to a xylophone. It is built in the shape of a carved, rectangular boat. The sound bars are made of bamboo or wood and are suspended from strings attached to the two walls and this helps the resonance of the bars. The sound box is made of a hardwood called “beng” (បេង) or “neang nung” (នាងនួន) and consists of two long walls and two short walls, called “snokkhawl” (ស្នូកខោល). The base of the sound box is called “cherng peng”(ជើងពាន).
This instrument keeps the harmony in the ensemble.
RONEAT THONG (រនាតធុង)
is a tuned percussion instrument made of wood. The sound box of the roneat thong is made of tropical hardwood, using woods such as “khnor” (ខ្នុរ), “neang nung” (នាងនួន) or “sraloa” (ស្រឡៅ). This particular wood when carved into a sound box has a good resonance. The wound box known as the “snouk” (ស្នូក) is carved into a rectangular boat-shape.
It is placed on the left of
and is considered to be the male voice, while the
is the female voice.
KONG VONG TOCH (គងវង់តូច)
kong vong toch
is a tuned percussion instrument with a distinctive cart-wheel shape. The instrument frame is made of four strips of cane, hardwood or ivory. The four strips are cut and heated over a flame in order to bend them to the right shape. Supporting the two main semicircular frames are the “chierng tien” (ជើងទៀន) or struts. The
is also used to make enough space for the gongs to hang without touching the frame or the other gongs. At either end of the frame is an ornamental carved piece of wood known as “khawl” of “khbang” (ក្បំាង).
KONG VONG THOM (គងវង់ធំ)
kong vong thom
has both large and small versions of the instrument. The circular frame of the
is made of bamboo and the round gongs are hung horizontally by cane strings across two bamboo frames on the upper of the structures. There are sixteen gongs made of brass, which produce a pleasant, mellow sound. The pitch varies according to the size the gong plate. Each gong plate has four holes through which are laced pieces of string made of cow or other animal skin. In the center of each plate is a small knob which is often referred to as the “doh” (ដោះ).
is a simple percussion instrument. Made of brass mixed with copper, it consists of two kinds of metal, the sound produced is much sharper than if only one is used.
is popular in a variety of folk ensembles, despite being a small, simple instrument with only two sounds
SKOR SAMPHOR (ស្កូរ សម្ភោរ)
is used to lead the orchestra. This instrument is made of hardwood such as “khnor” (ខ្នុរ) or “koe koh”(កកោះ) “rang” (រាំង) or ”beng”(បេង)).
It is barrel-shaped and is always held horizontally. It has two heads, with one slightly larger than the other.
, placed in a horizontal position on a small support to make it high enough for a seated musician, is played using the palm of the hands.
SKOR THOM (ស្កូរធំ)
is a bass drum and is used in most of the popular Khmer orchestras. It is made of hardwood such as “khnor”(ខ្នុរ) or “chreh”(ច្រេះ) which produces a high quality sound. Unlike other drums which are beaten with the hands, the
is struck with two wooden sticks.
represents the sound of thunder and when used in classical dance music, provides the basic rhythm for the dances to follow. These drums are placed at the front of the orchestra, as they are considered to be the dominant instruments.
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