Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UNESCO bid to save dying music style

UNESCO bid to save dying music style

Master Kong Nay mesmerises listeners on his chapei dong veng.
Master Kong Nay mesmerises listeners on his chapei dong veng. Scott Howes

UNESCO bid to save dying music style

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts plans to seek UNESCO cultural world heritage status for the traditional music known as Khmer Arak, an art form they believe is in danger of disappearing, ministry officials said yesterday.

Thai Norak Sathya, secretary of state for the ministry, said his colleagues hope to put in the request this year. “We are taking care of the most endangered type [of music], such as Arak bands,” he said.

According to Norak Sathya, Arak is the oldest type of local music, and originates from the animist spiritual beliefs of early Cambodians.

It is performed with the aid of such musical instruments as the flute, drum, tro and chapei (two types of stringed instruments).

The music is a form of prayer that was thought to drive out illnesses. But as the country adapts to modern medicine, Arak is in danger of dying out, he said, and few young Cambodians know about it.

Khat Sokhim, head of a traditional Arak band, welcomed the proposal. “Some children do not know the old music; only the old musicians can play it,” she said. “If the ministry can do this, I totally support it.”

UNESCO was not available for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,