Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Express your inner rock star inside The Sounding Room

Express your inner rock star inside The Sounding Room

Express your inner rock star inside The Sounding Room

Shown here: A giant Wild Drum, Kong Gurl and Wind Bell inside Sa Sa Art Project’s The Sounding Room.

More than one hundred people climbed to the second floor of the iconic Phnom Penh apartment complex known as “The Building” last Saturday afternoon for the launch of Sa Sa Art Project’s new installation, The Sounding Room.

A joint initiative of Sa Sa Art Project and UK based arts organisation, Incidental, The Sounding Room is advertised as “an interactive sound installation where everyone becomes a performer”.

Featuring eight gigantic traditional Khmer musical instruments     hooked up to amplifiers, The Sounding Room is open to anyone who wants to come in and try them, explained Vuth Lyno, the director of Sa Sa Art Projects.

“We just wanted to make people remember old or extinct musical instruments by copying their style and re-making them a bit larger. People can come into the room to play these musical instruments or just to chat. They can use it as a place to express ideas about freedom, human rights, or land issues. It’s up to them. We don’t have the clear schedule, we’re waiting to see what will happen after people get involved.”

The giant instruments installed in the room include the  Wild Drum, the Kong Gurl, (sometimes called the Khmer xylophone,) and a Wind Bell suspended in mid-air.

Each instrument is hooked up to speakers which broadcast their diverse sounds throughout the room, a feature David Gunn, the director of Incidental, explained is part of The Sound Room’s modern take on traditional Khmer instruments.

“Once upon a time, someone invented it. It didn’t come from nowhere. People experimented and changed instruments, so we tried to carry on that process. With this project we tweaked instruments with a long history and let people express their own character and personality in the way they play it.”

Sa Sa Art Projects shares The Building with hundreds of residents, among them Hem Phyrum, who told the Post at first he didn’t understand the idea behind the The Sound Room. After the goal of the project was explained,  he pitched in to help,  assisting local and overseas artists in placing and wiring the instruments.

“It looks strange to me because I have never seen large musical instruments like this, and they can make their sound heard on speakers,” he said.

Hem said he sees the project as playing a role in connecting the building’s inhabitants with the world outside, and observed that the decaying facade of The White Building leaves  some people feeling too intimidated to come inside.

“I feel that we have more connection with each other, between people in this community and people from outside. I think it builds more of a relationship between people and breaks down walls in the community,” Hem said.   

Gunn told the Post the popularity  of The Sounding Room lies in it’s appeal to the inner rock star lurking inside everyone.

“We want to show everyone is a musician, everyone can play something and everyone can listen. So it’s about creating a space for people to be part of the creative experience.”

The Sounding Room can be found on the second floor of The Building on Sotheros Boulevard.


  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth