This web page presents some of the traditional music and songs of Laos collected by the Archives of Traditional Music in Laos Project and the Lao-German Research and Development Project at the National Library of the Laos PDR in Vientiane, Laos. 

The Archive of Traditional Music in Laos Project


 The ancient and rich culture of Laos includes a highly diversified musical heritage among its sixty-eight ethnic groups. Because economic and cultural changes have taken place in Laos in recent years, a new need has come to research and preserve musical traditions. Musical traditions often are the first element of a cultural heritage to disappear during rapid economic and social changes.  This is due to the fact that traditional music is handed down in a non-written form by memory from generation to generation, and that the original land specific social performance contexts are fading. Therefore research into and preservation of musical heritage is very urgent.


Objectives of the project include


 to acquire a methodological knowledge base on internal systematization of traditional music in Laos

to collect and display music data by classifying repertories, music instruments and ensemble arrangements


to motivate and train specialized local staff to continue the culturally vital task of documenting and preserving traditional music in Laos


to enhance the National Library's scientific resources by establishing and supporting a new department called "Archives of Traditional Music in Laos" with its own systematization


to create a systematic musicological data based on various media (sound tapes, video, photo, transcriptions) to be used for further research and for educational and public purposes 

 to make accessible for public appreciation the rich and unique tradition of Laos

Up until May 2002, the project made field recordings in the provinces: Huaphan, Luang Prabang, Xiengkhuang, Vientiane, Bolikhamsay, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Salavan, Attapeu, Sekong, Bokeo, and Champasak.  The project includes 1123 audio recordings from 25 different ethnic groups, 1690 minutes video recordings, 764 photographs, 135 transcriptions of music and 70 drawings and descriptions of musical public. instruments, which are accessible for the public.

The Project

Begun in Vientiane in May 1999, the project was funded by DFG (German Research Association) and by GTZ (German Association for Technical Development Cooperation).  It was affiliated with the Oldenburg-Ostfriesland-Wilhelmshaven in Emden Fachhochschule in close cooperation with the Museum of Ethnology in Berlin.  From May 2001, the Phonogram Archives of project is privately   funded by Dr. Gisa Jaehnichen.  Tel.: 00856-21-251250


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2002 SEAsite Laos.  Traditional Musics and Songs in Laos
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