Tranditional Music

June 15, 2017 | Julia Yemin

The structure of the music Burmese is little known outside Burma and was studied very little. It is often comparable with the music of the South-East Asia (Laos, Thailand, Kampuchea). It inherited the traditions of the Indian music.

It is mostly said to be melodious yet without harmony. It is believed to be decanting from the Burmese monarchy with the infusion of different regional and tribes music styles. There are two ensembles of classical music; the outdoor ensembles that in Burmese called “the sidaw” and the indoor ensembles, which are called “the sidawgyi”. Among the instruments which give character to this music, Saung Gauk; a Burmese tootling-stone, a xylophone in bamboo, the hsaing; a whole of drums and gongs. One distinguishes 7 tone (athan) Si, one sought close relationships; it would be necessary to quote the " patet " javanais, the Indian " Raga " or the music “thaie”. Coming back to 7 tones, it is believed to be the animals produce the tone and they are based on them.

Where do they hold this music, how? To Burmese people, they enjoy the family gathering or holiday by watching an astounding mixture of dance, music, comedy and recreation of epic drama at festivals that they call “pwe” or at theater. To be more precise, there are several types. The most famous one is the “zat pwe” that is the ultimate combination of music, dance or dramatics. Second will be “a nyeint pwe”, the folksy theatrical form that present episodes from everyday life together with dancing and story telling. Unlike the other forms, the most pure and solos dancing alternating with groups is “Yein Pwe”. Some Burmese people believe in gods; associating with ritual spirit-medium dance, that are usually only performed privately except at animistic festivals. The famous puppet show, Yokethe pwe, is uniquely performed and be entertained at marionette theater, somehow, nowadays, it becoming popular along with the tourists travelling year trend that you can easily be enjoyed in Bagan, and Mandalay areas. From 18th to the mid 19th centuries, there are masked drama dances called “zat gyi” which were mainly cultivated in royal courts under the patronage of Burmese kings. National dancer troupes are mainly trained in the State schools of music and drama while there are countless more troupes travelling from a village to village throughout the rural countryside during the dry season.