Finding New Ground

Maintaining and Transforming Traditional Music

Authored by: Catherine Grant

The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138831186
eBook ISBN: 9781315736709
Adobe ISBN: 9781317567837


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Gauging the future prospects for traditional music in Cambodia is not easy. Without doubt, several of the country’s traditional genres are facing considerable and ongoing challenges, at least some of which may be traced back to the years of war and genocide. During the Khmer Rouge era, roughly half of all traditional music genres were lost (Visiting Arts 2001, 13) and an estimated 90 percent of artists lost their lives (Sam 1990, 209). By some accounts, these historical circumstances have led to the current cultural predicament, whereby the viability of Cambodian traditional music and other performing arts remains very uncertain:

With so few musicians and educators having survived the civil war or the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime, and traditional culture arguably still in a phase of recovery, the future of Cambodian music and dance is precarious.

(Kallio and Westerlund 2016)

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