Myanmar Music

Myanmar Musical Instrument

Myanmar Harp (Saung)

A "harp" is called Saung in Myanmar. There basically was 2 types: Byat Saung and Saung Gauk (bent harp). There almost is nobody who can play byat saungs these days.
In 10th century AD, musicians used only 5 strings in Myanmar harp, which later increased to 7 strings in 18th century. During King Bodaw Phayar the art of playing harp was much promoted by the king and was improved to using up to 13 strings.

Composition of a Myanmar Harp

Can you imagine how it is made of? The composition of Myanmar harps is very interesting. The body is made of padauk, the famous Myanmar mahogany. The flat bar is made of cutch wood. It is covered with the leather of a female deer. And the strings are made of silk! 

Myanmar Xylophone (Pattalar)

The Bamboo Xylophone (or) the Pattalar that is known in Myanmar language as an ancient musical instrument with the sound box underneath, with the seven graduated keys, it can produce melodious and unique sounds to the ears. Later on, ten keys were added and nowadays, 24 keys are being used. The name Pattalar means a musical instrument on which you can play from the crescendo to the bases or from the base to the crescendo. Whichever the musical has to be played and when you play the xylophone, you need two sticks wrapped around with the cloth at the top which can produce harmonious melody or sound. To make a bamboo xylophone, first, you must split the Waboe bamboo into four parts and then immerse it in the mud, about a year and then you have to wash it thoroughly and later on, you have to smoke it for a year. So, the bamboo becomes seasoned. The seasoned bamboos are cut into slats which are smoothened out, polished and made in a left to right position where 22 bamboo slats are sandwiched with the largest slates which are one and half feet and shortest is 6 inches respectively. Later on, the slates are drilled with the holes so that the string, which will hold them together and can be passed through. In this way, the Myanmar musical instrument bamboo xylophone is made. There are seven musical keys in the Western musical note. Also Myanmar Pattalar has seven musical keys, which are reproduced from the sounds of animals and also from Myanmar Oboe, which has seven holes. In the ways, we can see Myanmar musical instruments are differ in shape and tone from western musical instruments but they all have the same musical notes, which all the musician can understand and appreciate.

Hne (Oboe)

Hne (or) Oboe is one of our traditional wind instruments in Myanmar. It has been used in Myanmar since ancient time and is created by using a metal horn, a wooden flute and a palm reed. The oboe is a double-reed woodwind instrument having a high pitch, penetrating tone among other musical instruments that is not played by hand or by small striker but played by blowing through a reed inserted at its top to get strong and soft voices by opening and closing of respective holes on it. There are two kinds of Myanma oboe namely big oboe and small oboe. Big oboe has more bass than the small.
Big oboe has been used in Myanmar for many years and it is said to have come into use in 211 Myanmar era. It is used to play Myanmar tunes namely for producing Byawsi, Yegin, Nayi, Thapyay and Yadu music. The small oboe has been commonly used since 1290 and 1300 Myanmar era up to now. It is played not only for the tunes of Ozi, Dhobat, Si and Byaw music but also essentially for Myanmar Orchestra at Myanmar opera.So, Myanma oboe is a vital wind instrument among Myanmar musical instruments.

Some more instruments are :

  • Myanmar Pot Drum (Ooh Si)

  • Flute(Palwei)

  • Brass Xylophone (Kyay Patalar)

  • Cymbals (Lin-kwin)

  • Dobat

  • Brass Gongs-Circle (Kyee-naung Waing)

  • Shan Osi (Shan Long Drum)

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