Understanding Cambodia Music

Pinpeat, Mohori, PlengKar...Yeah!

Why should you know a little bit about Cambodia music?

Because Cambodia is a country that is rich in art and culture, and one of the most important heritages of this beautiful land is its music. Music is deeply integral to traditional Cambodian culture and has a place of importance in Cambodian history.

Today the strains of traditional Cambodian music mix and mingle with more modern strains, but the truth is that there are many different kinds of Cambodian music that can be heard. Take some time to learn more about the traditional music that still comes to life in Cambodia today.


Pinpeat is a form of classical Cambodia music that has been around for the better part of a thousand years. This type of music is characterized by a rich and resonant tone as well as a strong rhythm, and it is still very much a part of Cambodian culture today. This music was often used in daily rituals and over time it has become a part of the musical culture of many of Cambodia's neighbors. This was a form of music that was used in religious ceremonies, but it was also used for things like shadow puppets and pantomimes. Usually, a pinpeat ensemble will consist of between nine to twelve instruments.


In the realm of secular music, mohori music takes precedence. This kind of music has more than 600 musical themes and there are still many hundreds more that have been lost to time. Mohori music is most often heard at royal banquets, played to folk dancing or at summer concerts in the present day. The subject of this genre of music can range from lullabies to love songs to beautiful stories in general, and there is often a vocalist who lends their voice to the whole effect.


PlengKar is the music that this played at weddings and this ensemble is made up seven instruments, with representation from the wing, string and percussive instruments. A vocalist will usually accompany the musicians and this type of ensemble will usually perform locally for any weddings that occur. These weddings can last for three days and three nights and music is played nearly continuously for the event. In the past, there was a strong preference for older, more experienced musicians in these groups, because the music was thought to bring good luck to the wedded couple, and therefore was too risky to leave amateurs!

Modern Cambodian Music

It is also important to look at the popular music that Cambodia has enjoyed as well. In many cases, modern Cambodian pop music is divided up into the two categories, ramkbach and ramvong. Ramvong is usually thought of as being a slow dance music, while ramkbach is more lively and more closely related to Thai folk music. A form of modern music known as Kantrum has also become popular in Siem Reap, and the rich musical history that is enjoyed by Cambodia today is surely a worth descendant of the music of the past.

Ramvong - this two videos are my favourite. So cute!

Ram Kbach


So in short...

Cambodia music is among the most rich and beautiful in the world, and it can safely be said that it has one of the oldest and most venerable musical traditions. With a wide variety of instruments and many many melodies that tell thousands of stories, this musical tradition is one that can enrapture any listener. Take some time to learn more about this amazing country and the music that is played there!

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