Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Musicians' lament is a hard day's night

Musicians' lament is a hard day's night

Musicians' lament is a hard day's night

VETERAN leading composer Pic Punnareay, of AM radio asserts:"Life is not easy

for a Cambodian writer."

Writing lyrics from the age of 16, he was

already popular by the time he was twenty.

In the late 60's and early

70's, his compositions were sung by the greatest performers of the time, such as

Sin Sisamuth, Ruas Srei Sothea, and Pen Ron - all victims of the Pol Pot regime.

Now, few recognize his face, but many know his voice from the radio and

his name is still well-known and respected.

These days, as for most

Cambodian composers, his songs are generally commissioned by foreign production

companies at $10 - $20 per song.

There are many cassettes with his music

in the market, but because Cambodian cassettes tend to list the name of the

singer but not the musicians or songwriter, they are difficult to

find.

The money he earns from writing songs is not really enough to

support a family on.

"I need the money, but will not make something

without the quality. I want to keep my 'bon nom,'" he asserts.

Ironically, the sale of three songs is equivalent to a month's wages at

the radio station.

The musicians and singers who perform at the dancing

restaurants around Phnom Penh find the situation is the same.

Many hold

day jobs at the television or radio stations or teach at the Ecole des Beaux

Arts for a monthly salary that is the same as their nightly income with the

band, $20-$35.

"I was working with Care out in Pursat, earning

$180/month," relates Ra Tha, singer at the Ambassador hotel, "and I realized

that I can earn more in a nightclub than working at an NGO.

"It's a good

job because in the daytime we are free to do whatever we want.

Many

musicians have jobs during the day, but I just sleep. Then at 4 o'clock I go to

play basketball at the Olympic stadium."

In almost all cases, restaurants

require the band to perform seven nights a week, every week.

Ra Tha

confesses that he hasn't had a day off in over a year, "but it's still a

question of the money. I think you know about the economic situation in

Cambodia, so what can we do?"

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Four-pillar approach in reopening of tourism: PM

    Cambodia is drawing up a four-strategy approach to promptly restore domestic and international tourism activity and put the industry on a transition pathway to a sustainable and inclusive model that is resistant to future crises, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The prime minister made

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Cambodian bride ‘badly treated, held captive’ by Chinese man seeks help

    A Cambodian woman who travelled to China to marry a Chinese man there was “badly treated” by her husband’s family and then had to be rescued and will be returned to Cambodia to ensure her safety. The rescue operation came about after the 25-year-old