Uni students launch Khmer music mag

Uni students launch Khmer music mag

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A GLOSSY magazine covering Cambodia’s past and present music scene will be launched tomorrow night at 7:00pm at Meta House, by students in the Media and Communications department of the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

All 30 second-year students in the university’s journalism course collaborated to write and design Dontrey: The Music Of Cambodia, which contains information on everything from ancient ceremonial music, to rock ballads from the ‘60s golden era, to the pop songs of today.

Second-year students in the course are required to put out a magazine every year as part of the curriculum. Dr Tilman Baumgärtel, the lecturer who runs the class, told 7Days that he picked a musical topic for this issue to capitalise on the nostaligic pop revival that is sweeping the country.

“I tried to pick a topic that will interest readers, but at the same time has not been covered extensively. Khmer Rock from the 1960s has become cool again, both internationally as well as among Khmer youth, and I think there will be a lot of potential readers.

“There is an emphasis on the music from the sixties and seventies, but also articles on contemporary music and classic music.”

Dr Tilman Baumgärtel said he was motivated to document Cambodia’s music scene because the living history of the golden age is starting to fade.

“I thought that some material which is more comprehensive than what you find on fan websites would be in order. The few musicians who have survived the Khmer Rouge are getting old, and might not be among us much longer, and I thought that it is important to interview them now, before it is too late.”

The slow demise of Cambodia’s stars of yore hit home with the doctor at an exhibition two years ago at Chinese House. After the launch, which was on films from the sixties and seventies, several artists and filmmakers stayed behind for a Q and A.

“One of them was the composer Oum Dara. There was a Q and A with him after one of the screenings. But he was not very talkative and gave only very short answers, and so the conversation soon fizzled out.

“But he would just not leave the stage. He was standing there in his suit and tie and waited for more questions. And then he said: ‘Ask me something else. Soon I will be dead. I was so touched by that, and in a way that was what motivated me to do this magazine.”

After the launch, the magazine will be available for $1.50 at Monument Books.

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