Laotians use a variety of different musical instruments; however, by the time, some instruments disappeared after the French invasion. Due to the same geological location, Lao musical instruments are similar to neighboring countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Normally, these instruments are made from bamboo, reed, coconut tree, hardwood, natural plants, and the skin of animals.
Laos Traditional Musical Instrument – Khaen
Laotian culture says “People living in the house on stilts, eating sticky rice and playing Khaen only can be Laotian or their brothers”. Khaen is one of the most traditional musical instruments of Laos, used from the Lan Xang Kingdom but some say that it has existed for 4000 years. Khaen is the combination of a special bamboo and reeds, looks like a Vietnamese trumpet and the musician blows into the small holes to make the sound. In New Year and some special important events, people can play Khaen solo like classical music or combine it with other musical instruments to create beautiful melodies for the songs.
Laos Traditional Musical Instrument – Ra Nat
The second Laos traditional musical instrument is the Ra Nat which is made from hardwood with 22 bars of wood connected by a cord. The musician plays Ra Nat with 2 small wooden bars: the hard wooden bar and the soft one. The hard wooden bar is used to play fast tempo songs to make sharp and bright sounds while the other is to create tender sounds for slow tempo songs. Especially, it is used commonly to entertain kings and lords in the monarchy period.
Laos Traditional Musical Instrument – Phin
Phin is another musical instrument made from light wood with 2 or 3 cords so that it produces the bass sound and carries easily. It is similar to the guitar but the sound is totally different. Phin was affected by India and some countries in the Southeast Asia area, we can find it not only in Laos but also in neighboring countries Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar.
Laos Traditional Musical Instrument – Kong
Kong as known as a drum is also a traditional musical instrument of Laos. There are many kinds of drums, some are made from hardwood and animals’ skin like buffalo and snakes, and some are created from the copper, and tin, and appeared in 700 B.C. The drum is named kong because the root word is gong which means resonate. . You can visualize it easily as it looks similar to other drums and the only difference between Kong is the frog image on its surface. The old conception of Laotian believes that Kong means to pray for rain and represent peace. Today, traveling to Laos, you can admire Laotian plays Kong in most special anniversaries.