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MP3 Mandalay Marionettes and Cultural Show - Mandalay Marionette Music: The Magic of Burma

Extremely rare and flamboyant Burmese drum ''n'' gong ensemble music traditionally accompanying marionette music in Mandalay.

11 MP3 Songs
WORLD: Asian, WORLD: World Traditions

NOTE: All profits from this will go to the Burma Forum in Los Angeles. You can listen to some exotic rare music and build karma by helping the Burmese people (they live under the thumb of one of the most brutal military regimes in the world)


The mysterious and flamboyant Burmese drum and gong ensemble, rarely heard outside Burma (and is increasingly rare within Burma as well).

Although these instruments are somewhat reminiscent of some traditional Thai or Indonesian gong ensembles, this seems almost reckless, sometimes on the verge of falling apart, but suddenly coming together, only to fall into chaos yet again. It''s utterly enchanting.

Gong ensembles such as this one accompany a marionette performance. Stepped in a tradition that draws upon Indian and Chinese influences, it is nevertheless astoundingly unique. Much of the show''s ritual dates to the ancient spirit worship of nats, still practiced widely in Burma today alongside Buddhism. Nats are spirits who can help or destroy the lives of humans, and so appeasing them can become rather important. Burmese marionette theatre, or youq-the-pwe, has intricate, ornately detailed puppets, and is considered among many Burmese aesthetes to be most expressive of all Burmese arts.

The gong ensemble at this marionette show, known as kyi waing ("kyi" is pronounced "chi" and translates literally to "metal circle"), forms the core of the marionette ensemble. Each of the 21 or 22 drums are tuned by adding or removing the paste located at the center of each drum head. The paste itself, known as paĆ­ sa, or literally, drum food, is made of a mixture of ash and rice powder.

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