At the origin of the Khmer melodic percussion ensembles

Author: Patrick Kersale (Cambodian Living Arts)
Speaker: Patrick Kersale
Topic: Nonverbal semiotics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


Frescoes representing melodic percussion orchestras have recently appeared in the central sanctuary of the Angkor Wat temple. They prefigure two orchestras existing today in Cambodia: the pin peat and the kantoam ming. These two ensembles are respectively related to Theravada Buddhism ceremonies and funerary rituals in the Siem Reap area. They represent a revolution in the field of music because of their acoustic richness and their sound power, supplanting the old Angkorian string orchestras.

This project analyzes in detail the composition of the fresco sets and establishes a link with the structure of Khmer melodic percussion orchestras. The analysis of some graphic details, related to other frescoes and bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat, also makes it possible to propose a dating.

The study embodies one of ethnomusicology, while also incorporating a discourse analysis, so to frame the uncovering of new historiographers of music and instrumentation, so to re describe musical discourses, more so to shed new light on melodic percussion of Angkorian music.