Jao Dawk - Listen to the Individual Khmer Instruments

Jao Dawk is a wonderful classical Mahaori song in which the instruments of the ensemble take turns playing solos so one may hear how they sound individually. The lyrics of the song extol the beauty of each instrument. Each Khmer instrument has its own playing style. The roneat relies on running eighth notes played in parallel octaves. The roneat thom plays interesting counter rhythms. The tro-sau and tro-u playing style involves portamentos and elaborate ornamentation. The tahke plays fast repeated notes. In this incredibly lush video, we can see close-up how the they are held, played and improvised upon. The solos, in turn, are roneat, roneat thom, tro-sau, tro-u and tahke. The video leaves us thirsting for more - probably the khim and khloy didn't get their solo in the interest of time.

Here is the sheet music for Jao Dawk. In class, the "solos" consist of all the roneats at once, all the khims at once, etc. Occasionally, we even have the skos (drums) take a solo!

Bok Srou

Bok Srou (Pounding Rice) is the folk melody often used for Robam Angrae, a dance involving two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles.

Bok Srou starts slowly and increases in speed until the dancers can't keep up. Bok Srou is the piece we teach to beginning students. Often people who have never played a note in their lives, come in and learn Bok Srou and are playing with the ensemble within two hours. Here is a pdf of the sheet music, which is in

-standard western notation,

-Chinese notation (the notes of the scale are numbered 1 through 7; a dot under the number indicates the octave below, while a dot above the number indicates the octave above), and

- solfege (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti).

The first half of the page is the simple melody with repeats, followed by an elaboration in running eighth notes.

Bok Srou in pdf format for roneat (xylophone) or khim (hammered dulcimer)