Traditional Cambodian Music: Background information when reading Music of the Ghosts

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Music of the Ghosts

by Vaddey Ratner

Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner X
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2017, 336 pages
    Apr 3, 2018, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Chris Fredrick

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Traditional Cambodian Music

Traditional Cambodian music plays a key role in Music of the Ghosts. Hearing it triggers memories for both of the story's main characters, and three hand-made instruments—a single-stringed lute, an oboe, and a drum—set the plot in motion.

Music and Buddhism have a strong connection; music is sometimes seen as a ceremonial offering to the Buddha. An estimated 95% of Cambodians are Buddhist today, and the roots of Buddhism date back to the 5th century. Over that long history, Buddhist songs have been adapted for use in ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, playing an integral role in common cultural practices.

The lyrics of traditional musical pieces often have a moral or religious theme. The smoat (also smaut or smot) is an ancient and specific form of sung poetry that is sometimes accompanied by a solo instrument. A Buddhist performance art that falls between chanting and singing, it is described as haunting, powerful and didactic, but also as sweet, melodious, ...

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