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

  • Ethnic group ‘disappointed’ to be denied French visas to attend court

    Eleven people at the centre of a case involving seven indigenous Bunong villages in Mondulkiri province pursuing legal action in France have expressed disappointment after the French embassy in Phnom Penh denied their visa applications to attend court. A press release said the 11 included a

  • Cambodia nabs 12th place in best retirement destinations

    Cambodia is an expatriate hotspot for those dreaming of living a more luxurious lifestyle at an affordable cost, according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. For the fourth year in a row, Cambodia took the top spot in the Cost of Living category.

  • EU starts EBA withdrawal

    The EU on Monday announced that it has begun the 18-month process of withdrawing the Kingdom’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement over “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”. However, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said

  • PM: War result of foreign meddling

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that Cambodia’s recent history of conflict was caused by foreign interference. “The wars that happened were caused by provocation, incitement, support, smearing and interference from foreign powers, and the group of ignorant people who pushed Cambodia to