Music, Traditional and Modern


Music, Traditional and Modern
   Although deeply influenced by Indian models, classical Burmese music received its inspiration from Thailand after Thai/Siamese musicians and performers were brought back to Burma following the capture of the Siamese capital, Ayuthaya, by the armies of King Hsinbyushin in 1767. Such musical genres are known by the Burmese as the "Yodaya (Ayuthaya) style," synonymous with refinement. In the traditional orchestra, containing seven to ten players, the most prominent instrument is the saing waing, a circle of finely tuned drums; accompanying instruments include the kye waing (brass gongs), the saung gauq (a harp with 13 strings), the mi-gyaung ("crocodile lute"), the pattala (xylophone), and the hneh (similar to an oboe). For foreign listeners who find Burmese instrumental music discordant, a more appealing genre may be solos on the "Burmese harp" (saung gauq), often performed by a woman, which are remarkable for their tranquil and meditative moods. Western musical modes were introduced during the British colonial period, and a "pop" (popular) music scene has existed in Rangoon (Yangon) and other urban areas since at least the Burma Socialist Programme Party era (1962-1988), although Ne Win himself regarded Western-style music as a decadent influence. Under the State Peace and Development Council, globalization has encouraged one of Southeast Asia's liveliest rock music scenes, which includes local versions of "rap" and "hip-hop"; given political tensions and the regime's perennial fear of unrest, the SPDC's strategy has been to co-opt, rather than suppress, popular youth-oriented music groups like Iron Cross. But, as in other countries, rock music often serves as a barometer for the younger generation's frustrations and disillusionment.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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