Various Artists

Music of Laos: The Buddhist Tradition

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Buddhism is a major factor in Laotian life, and German musicologist Gisa Jähnichen recorded some of it at the beginning of the millennium. This collection focuses on three main styles -- entertainment for the Buddhist new year, whose songs are performed in a gleeful style, the voices accompanied by xylophones, spike fiddle, and percussion; gong-chime ensembles, an ancient art from Champasak; and finally temple chanting, where the chants are often interspersed with interludes of percussion and procession. Well annotated, albeit a little dry for the casual listener, this is fascinating, not only for the music itself, but also for the way the music has so much in common with both Buddhist and court music from Thailand and Cambodia.

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