Myanmar Musical Instruments (Traditional)


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Myanmar Musical Instrument (Traditional)

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Kyaw Myo, Mandalay Marionettes, Myanmar

Published in: Education
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  • Slide 1 Start the same as MMT Then… I am here will introduce briefly about our “Myanmar Orchestra” in our Myanmar language called Saing Wing and explain how M SW can be orchestrated with a set Instruments. But I am here only introducing a few important Instruments. And I will also briefly touch on how we produce such instruments traditionally in Myanmar. Myanmar Orchestra comprise with 6 main Players for the whole ensemble. It can be varied and depend on how many instruments and usage for them. But here I have listed the instruments as follow (1)Pat-Waing Player ( Master Musician), (2) Brass Gong Player, (3) Oboist, (4) Patma, Sakhunt and 6 – supported drums player (player of percussion corner), (5) Bronze gong player (Kyay Maung) (6) Timing bell player. If it were possible to sum up Myanmar music in two words they would be “Freedom” and “Gusto”   Yes! Myanmar Music has freedom to improvise, freedom from being note-bound, and freedom from variations, to mention only three.   It‘s also in oversimplification to say that European music is harmonic and Myanmar Music is melodic.   Myanmar musical instruments are looked upon as “instruments” for the display of the player’s own individual art.
  • Slide 3 Let me start with MSW: As I explained in MMT presentation, “Myanmar Orchestra” is important not only for the human performances, but also for our Marionettes theatres. You can see the whole set of M SW and  This instrument was originally called a saing-waing because drums had to be “hung” ( saing in Myanmar) down eight carve wooden planks which are in a “circle” ( waing in Myanmar). Later on it was called pat-waing which makes tune. This also means “drums” ( pat in Myanmar) placed in a “circle”( waing in Myanmar). The saing-waing and the pat-waing therefore mean the same though today only a pat waing together with its accompanying instruments, that is, the whole orchestra, is usually called saing-waing. In Myanmar there is this complete set of drums of graduated sizes though foreign countries also have musical instruments stretched with leather but played not in a full set.   In the main circular frame, hanging 21 drums are suspended by leather thongs along the inside. The orchestra leader (who is sitting in the middle and who is a master) plays the drum circle with one eye looking at the stage, and one eye on the small drums. Sitting cross-legged, twisting his body to reach all 21 drums, he strikes with the bare fingers and heels of his hands. The drums are tuned by the amount of pat-sa (drum feed) pasted onto the center of the ox-skin surface. It is a soft mixture of wood-ash and cooked rice, kneaded smooth. To have harmonics drums, adjusting drum feed is done by a wet thumb or finger.  
  • Kyaynoung ( “the bronze gongs”) Slide 4 Kyaynoung (“the bronze gongs”) This Kyaynaung, In the research literature said that this instrument started to use during the Konbaung Period (started 1752). The Kyaynaung instrument originally had seventeen brass gongs but one more gong was added later on. The Kyaynaung player is usually the second leader of the whole orchestra and may, later on, become the first leader. The circular frame of the chime is constructed in the same manner as the frame of the drum-circle. The only different is the height of the frames. This is less than half as high as that for the drum. The frame was made up of eight detachable panels and some are ornamented with lacquered gold and brilliants. The suspended gongs are held up the tension of the inner circle which used to be of flaxen rope but is now of cane. This way we can keep them more firmly level for the stroked effects.
  •   Slide 5 Myanma Oboe and Flute. Oboe was known to have been used since Bagan Period. Two types of oboe --- the Myanmar oboe and the Mon oboe emerged during the Innwa Period (Ava-1364-1555). And beginning the Innwa Period, too, the oboe “major” and the oboe “minor” were said to have been introduced.   There is literary evidence to suggest, oboes were made of plum and acacia woods as those woods were considered suitable to be put into the mouth.
  • Slide 6 Myanma Oboe and Flute.   An oboe, like the drum-set and the “pattalar” (Myanmar Bamboo Xylophone) is an instrument that can articulate all musical notes without the help of electronics.   The conical tube of Oboe has 7 tone-holes and a thumb-hole. The reeds are made with 3 pairs of tender palm leaves folded and cut into shape and business end secured tight to fit the staple. Now a day, the oboe is in two sizes the big and the small generally.   The art of playing an oboe is quite extensive. The art of playing a big oboe is however the same as playing the small oboe. Oboes are capable of articulating one full scale higher if they are given extra intensive blows.      An oboist must be an expert in manipulating his lips, his tongue, his teeth, his throat, and his mouth. He must have dexterous fingers and strong lungs. He must have a good nose as well as a keen sense of hearing.   Scholars say that the art of playing an oboe is more profound than the art of playing a drum-set.    
  • Slide 7 Patma, Sakhunt and 6 – supported drums (also call in Myanmar – Pat-Ma-Gyaung / in English- The percussion corner) The Patma is an instrument of a theatrical orchestra. It was made part of a theatrical orchestra during the times of King Mindon. In the old days the beam that carried the Patma was a Warmin bamboo. Later on such beams came to be ornamented with cavings of Nagars or Pinsarupas.   Sakhunt is a drum played in the Patma group of a theatrical orchestra. This instrument was introduced into Theatrical orchestras beginning with the times of KonBaung Dynasty (1752-1885)    The Chauklon Pat (6 – supported drums) is a theatrical orchestra instrument. The name Chauklon Pat came into use not very long ago. Orchestras began to use these instruments during the Konbaung Period. (1752-1885)    
  • Kyaymoung ( “the bronze gongs”)   Slide 8 Kyaymoung (“the bronze gongs”)   Moung was called naungninn - kyayninn in the old days. Its first use was in Bagan Period(1044-1287). Zeyathein Stone Inscription done in the year 559 and the Myauk Kumi Pagoda Rock Inscription done in the year 603 mention the use of naungninn musical instrument.   During Bagan Period, a set of nine moungs (gongs) was used in “ nari” music troupes. In the old days gongs were beaten in battles to marshal fighters but nowadays they are being strung up and used in “ saing ” music troupes. Present day gong sets have up to seventeen gongs strung in rectangular wooden frames.  
  • Slide 9 Linguin “ the big cymbal’   Linguin known in the old days as khwet khwinn is another brass instrument. There are many sizes of linguins . Their thickness and their weights also vary. The diameter of the bowls of a large linguin is about twelve inches and it is about one viss in weight. Among Myanma musical instruments, linguin is an instrument that cannot be played by itself alone.   Cee   Cee is the main instrument of among all Myanmar traditional musical instruments. Myanmar music is controlled by the cee which regulates the beat of all singing and dancing. The vocalist has to take his timing from the cee . A component of cee is wah (wooden block). In other words, cee and wah regulate music. There are many modes of striking the cee (timing bells) depending on the beats required for particular music. There are three basic modes, the nari cee , the walat cee and the zone cee . Generally speaking the nari cee is to mark the time of slow moving classics, the wahlat is to mark the time of a normal tempo and the zone cee is to mark quick time.   The cee and wah are a kind of clock work. Just as one hour is of the same duration as another hour one beat of the cee is of the same duration as another beat. All would be musicians have to begin to learn the cee and the wah .   Cee has become a musical instrument for a very long time now. It is known to have been one ever since the Shrikeshtra period. Records say that when a Pyu King dispatched a music troupe to the Chinese Court in the year 802 AD., there were cee players among the musicians that made up the music troupe. Records also show that in Bagan Period, thanlwin was used in lieu of cee .   Cee is a brass instrument although it is made of brass mixed with silver to give a more melodious sound.   Sito (the stick-struck drum) , wider surface ends and rather bigger drum than the other. Cee and Warh player use to take responsible to beat this drum with the stick.  
  • The Harp: An Earliest Myanma Muical Instrument   The harp is one of the earliest musical instruments of the world.   In Myanmar, ancient chronicles say that harps were being played as early as in the Pyu Period. In February of 802 AD. Sri Khettra dispatched a Pyu music and dance ensemble to Chan-ann, the city of the Tang Dynasty of China. Tang Dynasty chronicles say that the Pyu musicians had with them two harps with pheasant’s head shapes, two harps with crocodile head shapes, one flat harp in the shape of a dragon’s head, one flat harp in the shape of rain clouds, two flat harps of big gourds, one flat gourd-harp with a single string and one small flat gourd-harp.   Among rock relief sculptures found on the walls of the (?) Ananda Ceti built by King Kyansittha, is a harp which indicates that the harp was in general use in those days.   Myanma harps began with seven strings and then acquired six more strings. It is said that Harpist U Nyein added the fourteenth string. In fact, U Nyein is said to have added two more strings. And in the recent past, Harpist U Ba Than played harps with sixteen strings.   Harp strings are strung and fastened to the arm of the harp by means of fastening cords or by means of keys pushed through the arm.
  • Slide 11 HARMONIC "PATTALAR" INSTRUMENT   If I were to be asked to name a Myanmar musical instrument that performs better solo. I would have to say a "pattalar" (xylophone). Pattalar is an instrument that produces the basic musical notes.   Historians say that Pattalar was a musical instrument that preceded history. The Bago Kalyani Sima Rock Inscription, inscribed by the King of Hanthawaddy (Bago) Dhammazedi in the year 839, reveals that Pattalar was being played in those days. Historians say that the word Pattalar was derived from Mon language and meant "box music". As its name implies it is an instrument made in the shape of a hollow case. This hollow case of course is the sound box. The box gives a clear resonance of the vibrations of the strips of the Pattalar when they are struck with a small hammer.   In appearance, a Pattalar is an instrument of a series of bamboo strips strung on cords yet it is not so easy to make a Pattalar. The making of a Pattalar involves meticulous work in strictly regulated process and takes a long time having one made.   The best bamboo for making a Pattalar is "Wabo" bamboo. This bamboo has a thin hard skin that gives a clear resonance when struck.   A Pattalar is one of the most difficult Myanma musical instruments to tune. It cannot be tuned, like the harp and the "saing" drums, to a complete scale of musical notes. A Pattalar is tuned for good.  
  • Myanmar Musical Instruments (Traditional)

    1. 1. Instruments of a set of “Myanmar Orchestra” Presented by Kyaw Myo Ko Mandalay Marionettes Myanmar
    2. 2. Myanmar Orchestra <ul><li>-the whole orchestra is usually called “ Saing-Waing” </li></ul>
    3. 3. Saingwaing The Pride of Myanmar -the main circular frame with hanging 21 drums is called “Pat-Waing ”
    4. 4. The Brass Gong Circle “ Kyaynaung” <ul><li>the use of Kyaynaung started Myanmar Kongbaung era , 1752 </li></ul><ul><li>Kyaynaung player is usually the second leader of the whole orchestra </li></ul><ul><li>the inner circle which used to be of cane to keep firmly level of the stroked effects. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Myanma Oboe
    6. 6. <ul><li>-A place reserved for Oboe in all Myanmar Orchestras </li></ul><ul><li>-Since Bagan Period (1044-1287) </li></ul><ul><li>-Parts of an oboe </li></ul><ul><li>-The art of playing an oboe </li></ul><ul><li>Skills of to be an Oboist </li></ul><ul><li>What scholar say on the art of Oboe playing </li></ul>The art of playing an oboe
    7. 7. Patma, Sakhunt & 6 – supported drums <ul><li>Patma </li></ul><ul><li>Sakhunt & 6-supported drums </li></ul>
    8. 8. The Bronze Gongs “Kyaymoung” <ul><li>-Its first use was in Bagan Period(1044-1287). </li></ul><ul><li>-In the old days gongs were beaten in battles to marshal fighters </li></ul><ul><li>-Present day gong sets have up to seventeen gongs strung in rectangular wooden frames. </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>Linguin known in the old days as “ khwet-khwinn” </li></ul><ul><li>Myanmar music is controlled by the Cee & there are three basic modes. ( nari cee, walat cee & zone cee) </li></ul><ul><li>Sito means the stick-struck drum , wider surface ends and rather bigger drum than the other </li></ul>Linguin, Cee & Sito
    10. 10. Myanmar Harp Myanmar Harp -Ancient chronicles say that harps were being played as early as in the Pyu Period.(800 A.D) -3 strings were used, later it became 7 -then invented 13 Strings. Later, 14 -famous harpist Alinka Kyaw Zwa U Ba Than used 16 Strings -Myanmar Music has 7 tunes, said to derive from the harp
    11. 11. Myanmar Bamboo Xylophone “Pattalar”
    12. 12. Thank you for your Attention