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

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished