Music in the nation of Cambodia has a long and rich history, dating back to the era of the Khmer empire. More recently it has been coloured by western influences, particularly after the demise of the Communist regime in the country. Cambodia is recognized both for its folk and classical compositions as well as its popular music.
The folk music of Cambodia has its roots in ancient times, and is considered to portray Hindu influences in its melodies and structure. The Siem Reap area is well known for its kantrum music which is thought to be derived from Thai tradition. Cambodian music is inseparable from the dance forms of the nation, particularly religious dances which depict myths and legends of the Cambodian tradition. These dances are typically accompanied by a pinpeat orchestra featuring instruments such as the roneat (bamboo xylophone), ching (cymbal), sralay (oboe), pia au (flute), gong (bronze gong), chappay (bass banjo), tro (violin) as well as different kinds of drums.
Each movement performed by the dancer represents a particular idea or thought, or aims to convey a particular message. Classical music and dance in Cambodia were revived in the 1960s by the patronage of Princess Norodom Bopha Devi.
Cambodian popular music has gained a great following in the country, and may be subdivided into the ramkbach and ramvong styles. Ramkbach is affiliated with the folk music of Thailand, while ramvong is identified as slow paced dance music.
Modern music has made strong inroads into the mindsets of Cambodians, particularly the young, with many songs accompanied by a video featuring an actor or actress (or both) dancing and moving their lips as if they were actually singing the song.
Today music is inextricably linked to the popular culture of Cambodia and is a major source of entertainment for the masses. Cambodian music is enthralling and inspiring, and presents a distinctive idea or story to the listener. Renowned Cambodian artistes include Sinn Sisamouth, Pan Ron, Ros Sereysothia, Meng Keo Pichenda, Lour Sarith and Noy Vannet.
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