Exhibition: “Voices of the Wind: Traditional Instruments in Laos”

 

The Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre (TAEC) in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, an ASEMUS member, has recently opened a new exhibition entitled “Voices of the Wind: Traditional Instruments in Laos”. It will be on display until the autumn of 2020.

This is TAEC’s first major venture into ethnomusicology, and features an immersive approach to exhibition design, including re-creations of a Hmong khaen maker’s workshop and a Tai Dam sen (healing) ceremony. It also includes over 200 videos and photographs on interactive kiosks.

A highly interactive and intimate exhibit, display spaces communicate three important contexts of instrumental practices: ritual, instrument-making, and courting. Through village scene recreation, audio stations, and interactive video and photograph kiosks, visitors will enter a world rarely seen by the general public.

In Laos, music and musical instruments are a part of everyday life. For entertainment, courtship, or rituals, to banish loneliness, teach children, or communicate with the spirits, musical practices touch every member of a community during every part of the year. However, while singing is still vivid in many parts of Laos, traditional musical instruments have become scarce, often replaced by new media such as CDs.

With this exhibit, TAEC highlights the variety and complexity of musical instruments used among minority groups of Laos. The exhibition features different types of mouth organs (khaen), often considered the national instrument of Laos, but also a great variety of uncommon or ephemeral instruments such as the Lahu dadoula flute, the leaf played by the Akha, and the free-reed pipe used in Tai Dam rituals.

Ethnomusicologist Dr. Marie-Pierre Lissoir curated this exhibition. While studying the traditional singing of the Tai Dam ethnic group in Houaphan Province for her PhD, she observed the incredible cultural richness of musical instruments, but also their rapid disappearance.

Further information

TAEC has collected and made available a set of resources about music and musical instruments from Lao PDR. A collection of audio recordings of these instruments is also now available.

For additional information about “Voices of the Wind: Traditional Instruments in Laos”, please visit https://www.taeclaos.org/featured_item/exhibition-current-special-voices-of-the-wind-instruments-2/

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