I'd bicycle home in the evenings and when passing one corner would always hear gongs and drums. I finally made a visit and found a group of dedicated young people practicing on traditional Lao instruments, something not that common these days. I was so impressed that I took them to the Luang Prabang radio station and spend the morning recording these pieces. Being true musicians, they weren't satisfied with the sound of the drum and the stringed instrument and asked if I would allow them to record everything again in the afternoon again. In answer to such artistic demands, my answer was of course to let them take as long as they wanted.
This small collection of musical pieces date back to the reign of King Fa Ngum (1353-1373), the founder of the Lane Xang Kingdom - “The Land of a Million Elephants”.
Many songs of the royal court were a part of the Phra Lak Phra Lam (ພຮະລັກພຮະຮາມ), known as the Ramakien in Thailand and the Ramayana in India, and thus their roots reach even further back legends of unknown origin.
These musical pieces are not notated and according to Lao tradition not necessarily taught directly from teacher to student. Traditionally, musicians used their ears, their senses and their spirit to absorb the music that they heard in the court, at festivals and in daily ceremonies.
Music was once a part of daily life with songs associated with particular events, though most young people cannot identify them anymore. For this reason, groups like Pa Pin Kam are important to revive and carry on such precious traditions.
Future research can better document this important repertoire of Luang Prabang music. The primary intention of this CD is to begin to bring back the sound and spirit of traditional Luang Prabang music. I hope that one day in the future, traditional Luang Prabang music will be heard in daily life again.