Category Archives: Yunnan

“Exhibition Offers Sounds, Sights From the Golden Triangle” (Irrawaddy Magazine, December 18, 2015)

ASEAM’s own Sam Cartmell recently visited an exhibition called “Cultural Crossroads of the Golden Triangle” put together by Tribal Music Asia founder Victoria Vorreiter. Please read the article from The Irrawaddy Magazine below:

“Exhibition Offers Sounds, Sights From the Golden Triangle”

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — It’s the culmination of Victoria Vorreiter’s 10 years documenting ethnic minority music and culture in the region where Burma, Thailand, China and Laos meet—a new exhibition titled “Cultural Crossroads of the Golden Triangle,” now showing at Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand.

Vorreiter, a classically trained violinist, was originally drawn to the unique music emanating from the highlands of Southeast Asia. She was fascinated with how traditional music of the region encapsulated all aspects of the people’s lived experiences and served as a vessel to transfer oral history from one generation to another. “I was interested in documenting the traditional music, which goes beyond the music that we know in the West, because being peoples who have an oral heritage, [their music] connects the very first ancestors to the present generation,” she tells The Irrawaddy.

“In this exhibit I’ve extended the musical traditions into the way that people dress and their spiritual beliefs,” says Vorreiter, adding: “The title ‘Cultural Crossroads of the Golden Triangle’ represents the mixture of all these different aspects.” In addition to photographs, the exhibition features displays of textiles, musical instruments and other cultural objects.

Ethnographic video filmed by Vorreiter will also be screened over the duration of the exhibition. Recognizing that moving images and sound together are a powerful tool for sharing culture, Vorreiter says the videos “give you a sense of the people as they live, and as they celebrate, and as they communicate with one another through music and through ritual.”

“Cultural Crossroads of the Golden Triangle” will be on display at Chiang Mai University’s Uniserv Center through Dec. 21 during the “Communication/Culture and Sustainable Development Goals” conference hosted by the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development. More of Vorreiter’s photographs and ethnographic recordings can be found at her website, Tribal Music Asia.

*This article was originally published by the Irrawaddy Magazine on 18 December, 2015, view the article here.


Hill Tribe Music

Re-upped the damaged mp3s from the August 2012 post . . . if you like what you hear please purchase an original CD.

Missing You (Karen – harp)

Before Harvesting (Karen – hom)

Big Feast (Hmong – big gourd-pipe)

Courting (Hmong – jew’s harp)

Good Bye (Hmong – girl singer)

Nice To Meet You (Lahu – gourds-pipe)

Courting (Lahu – jew’s harp)

Courting (Lahu – pipe)

Respect To Elder (Mien – oboe & cymbal)

Marriage (Mien – oboe)

Rock Dance (Mien – oboe & drum & cymbal)

Chikuca (Akha – small gourd-pipe)

Swinging (Akha – group singer)

Rawnum Rosae sae (Akha – group & flute)

New Year (Lisu – big gourd-pipe)

New Year (Lisu – girl & gourd-pipe)

New Year (Lisu – quill sting instrument)

Hill Tribe Music CD sleeve 1

Hill Tribe Music CD sleeve 2 Hill Tribe Music CD

Li, Xiu Xiang “The spirit of valley” CD

“The old songs . . . The legend of white bat”

The back cover reads:

This album is a tribute to

He, Cheng dian

He, Xi dian

He, Xue kong

Zhang, Mo jun

He, Yu tang

He, Kai xiang

He, Ji guei

He, Shi cheng

He, Ding ba


They have been influence and give lots of advices to Li, Xiu xiang. They are spirit of Naxi ethnic group, May they rest in peace.

Thanks to Yunnan Yulong County Government and Press Bureau…

Published by The images and music of ethnic group culture company


A big thank you to NiNa for providing the CD and the translation!


Vocal Music of Contemporary China Volume 2: The National Minorities – The Uighurs and The Kazakhs, The Inner Mongolians and the Dongs (Ethnic Folkways Records FE 4092)

Guangyin-axinshang (Dong)

Selection from liner notes:
Over half of China’s fifty-five national minorities are concentrated in the southwest, Most share some cultural features with the ethnic minorities in northern mainland Southeast Asia. One such group is the Dongs who live in the mountainous border of southeastern Hunan and western Quizhou Provinces and northern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The Dongs are famous for their mortised bridges, drum towers, and singing. There is a saying among the Dongs: “Speech is incomplete; only singing can express everything.” (Hung 1959: 37) They have songs for almost every occasion of daily life, including songs for welcoming and sending off guests, and for meeting friends on the road. (You 1979: 24) According to a survey done in the Southeastern Hunan area, there are 47 types of songs for different purposes and within the love song category there are seven subtypes. (Hung 1959: 40-47) The Dongs are fond of part singing, a feature less frequently found among the Han-Chinese and the other minorities discussed hitherto. Dong choirs are organized by sex, age, and vocal range (Fang 1960: 26). The top part of a two-part choir, the most usual kind, is carried by one or two lead singers and the bottom by the rest of the group. The relationship of the two can be in drone, question-answer, organum, or imitation (Nian 1960: 35) and the most common harmonic intervals encountered are thirds (Fang 1960: 27). The five-tone scale in minor mode, like the “Mongolian Mode” mentioned earlier, is the most popular though by no means the only mode used. Among the instruments of the Dongs, the following are commonly found: len (mouth organ), gi (bamboo recorder), piba (small 4-stringed lute), go kie (small 3-stringed lute), and ba mei (tree leaves) (Hung 1959: 37-40)

8. Guangyin-axinshang (Dong)
Text by Li Runqin and Jiang Fan, music arranged by Ji Zhou; Wang Yinju and Li Runqin, lead singers accompanied by the Chorus of the Guizhou Song and Dance Troupe, Dong Dangan, instrument soloist. Sung in Mandarin. (1-1409A/B)
The Dongs like to organize their songs in suites with introduction, songs, coda. This one belongs to this type of song-suite. It is a mountain song, i.e. love song with improvisatory text sung in the mountain. Despite the “concert” arrangement, most musical features discussed above are present. A gi and a man’s whistle are used as accompaniment. Contrary to the Han examples in Volume 1 and non-Han examples heard so far in the Volume, the Dongs sing in a rather relaxed and low-pitched voice.

Citations for selection:
Fang Jishen. 1960. “The Basic Characteristics of Folk Choral Singing among the Dongs, the Zhuangs, the Puyis, and the Yaos) Renmin Yinyue, March: 26-28.
Hung Tai. 1959. “The Folk Music of the Dongs in Tongdao, Hunan” Yinyue Yenjiu, No. 4: 37-54.
Nian Yi. 1960. “The Folksongs of the Dongs” Renmin Yinyue, October: 35-37.
You Yuwen. 1979. “With the Dong People of Guangxi” China Reconstructs, Vol. XXVIII, No. 7, July: 22-25.