Khmer people in southern An Giang province are determined to revive their traditional “Ngu Am” music, which requires five to seven musical instruments.

The An Giang provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Committee for Ethnic Minorities have given local Khmer pagodas 20 sets of Ngu Am instruments to help with these efforts.

Unlike Kinh people’s traditional musical instruments, Khmer instruments are made from various materials such as wood, bronze, coconut shells, cow hide and snake skin.

A set of Ngu Am musical instruments include a small drum called Skoday, a bid drum called Skothom, a two-stringed instrument called Tro-sau, a zither called Takhe, a dulcimer called Khim, and a set of Roneat percussion instrument made of wood and bronze. In addition, a Tro U instrument made from coconut shell and a Skor Chhay Dam are also used.

Ngu Am music is essential for Khmer people’s important events like the anniversary of Lord Buddha’s birthday, Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year) festival and other cultural activities.

An Giang is home to 65 Khmer pagodas which are mainly located in Chau Phu, Chau Thanh, Tri Ton, Tinh Bien and Thoai Son districts. These pagodas are frequented by more than 114,600 people or 5.33 percent of the province’s population.

However, only three of the pagodas have full sets of Ngu Am instruments while 20 others use incomplete sets. No local artisans can make the instruments any more, instead they are bought from Cambodia.

Therefore, investment in Khmer traditional musical instruments and popularising the music is necessary to help Khmer people maintain their cultural identities./.