Dangdut, kebyar, hsaing waing, sape, saung, nhạc tài tử, mahori, kulintang, morlam, degung, gender wayang, sandaya, kecak, rindik… on and on. The varieties of music and dance found in Southeast Asia are endless. I first visited mainland Southeast Asia in the 1990s, lived in Myanmar for a time, and have returned to the region many times over the past two decades. Each visit introduces me to new sounds. The musical styles, instruments, and contexts of the area are too numerous to count, but this list contains a short sampling of some of the music that you might hear when—once we can easily travel again—you visit. Perhaps you may engage some of these traditions among some of the many Southeast Asian immigrants that now call North Carolina home.
This playlist does not dwell on a specific locale or tradition but demonstrates some of the extreme variety of sounds from the mainland to the islands. Instruments and ensembles designed from bamboo or gongs are ubiquitous throughout, but the local adaptations and variations to these materials are mind-boggling. The list includes many examples of heritage instruments and ensembles that have been in use for generations. The processes of hundreds of years of European colonialism and global commerce have also introduced a variety of international instruments and styles (pianos, guitars, ukuleles) adapted and modified to create new genres with local aesthetic and performance contexts. Other musical innovations have blossomed through the immigration experience to North America, where sounds from the homelands are recombined with contemporary American sounds.
I hope you enjoy.
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