Skim through the famous and most popular songs, records and singing artists of Cambodia.
Cambodian music finds its roots in ancient traditions springing from the Khmer Empire. Today we find the old school music of the region to have been greatly influenced by the Western pop music of contemporary times. The folk music found in the region has its inspirations rooted in ancient forms of music practiced amongst the Hindus of the neighboring regions.
An important factor to understand is that not all music produced in Cambodia can be termed as Cambodian music. This is because Cambodian music in its essence is the old school traditional folk music that was restricted to local regions whereas today all sorts of modern music is produced in the region.
The Cambodians possess a strong love for music. This is why we find music to be popular amongst the villagers as well as the court settings. Music was closely tied to important functions and in other cases it was popularized as mere entertainment.
The tradition of music flourished in the villages as the locals would celebrate wedding ceremonies with the use of kar music. The locals believed music to be a source of establishing contact with the spirit world. Over the years music took on different forms and meanings for the locals ranging from mere entertainment music to theatre and narrative music.
The court settings were where the more aristocratic music began to flourish. Masked plays and dances were introduced. Similarly there were a host of religious rituals that were practiced making use of music. There was a huge selection of Cambodian songs that was popularly used during religious ceremonies. In fact each temple had its own band known as the pinn peat. There was music even at the funeral ceremonies of the Cambodians.
The nature of the music is always highly dependant on the instruments that are used. The Cambodians had a unique selection of musical instruments that gave their musical traditions a unique feel. The xylophone and its many manifestations were amongst the main instruments used in Cambodian music. The flute, fiddle, zither, dulcimer, drums and cymbals were other instruments that were popular used by the traditional temple bands.
Modern Cambodian music
Today we find that Cambodian music has taken on two distinct forms. In the local lingo they are classified as ramvong an rambach. The first of the two is slow music to dance to and the second genre is inspired by the Thai tradition of folk music. There is yet another style of modern Cambodian music known as Ram Kbach which is basically what you would call pop music and it is accompanied by a unique style of Khmer dancing.
In recent years the music industry of Cambodia has flourished and has developed an independent identity of its own. The influences from the western world have driven many youth towards experimenting with the fusion of local music and the sound of the western world.