Tribal Music Asia:
The Music of the Golden Triangle

Tribal Music Asia Media Player


Newsletter - July 2014

Newsletter - July 2013

Newsletter - July 2012

Newsletter - February 2011


Presentation and Exhibit

Reach Back, Reach Deep,
Reach Out

Chulalonghorn University Symposium
"Partnerships for Change"
Bamngkok, Thailand
2 - 3 March 2015


Recent Articles

Review Vancouver
An Interview with Victoria Vorreiter
26 February 2014

Global Fund for Children
“Music Everywhere!”
VV Photograph accepted
February 2014

Journal of Urban Culture Research
Chulalonghorn University
Reach Back, Reach Deep, Reach Out:
A Case History of the Songs of Memory
Project in the Community

July 2014

Past Articles



Majesty in the Mountains:

Traditional Culture of the
Highland Peoples of SE Asia

International Conference, 50th Year Celebration
CMU Faculty of Social Sciences
“Transforming Societies: In Asia & the Pacific”
15–16 February 2014

23rd Annual Conference
Human Dignity & Humiliation Studies
“Returning Dignity”
8–12 March 2014
Chiang Mai University, Thailand

From the Hands of the Hills:

Traditional Textiles
from the Golden Triangle

International Conference,
"Cloth, Culture, & Development"
23 - 25 August 2014
Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Preserving Tribal Music and Ceremonies

Tribal music of Asia
It is a pleasure to introduce Tribal Music Asia, a site that highlights the ancestral songs, ceremonies, and culture of the traditional peoples of The Golden Triangle.

Victoria Vorreiter began archiving the age-old music of the highlands of Southeast Asia, in 2005, following the success of her first documentary film, The Music of Morocco and the Cycles of Life. All that follows is a result of her years of research and devotion.

Music and Culture of the Golden Triangle

Tribal music of Asia

High in the mountains, which sweep Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and China, resides a multiplicity of indigenous people, numbering over 130 groups and subgroups, who have migrated for centuries from their source in Mongolia, Siberia, and the Tibetan Plateau. Many of these groups continue to live close to the earth, practice animism, and observe oral tradition. Culturally and sonically, this is one of the most extraordinary places on the planet.

The Songs of Memory project set out to capture the soundscape and spiritual practices of some of these hilltribe groups, with the aim of demonstrating the vital importance of vocal and instrumental music, as it marks their daily, seasonal, life, and generational cycles. The role of music in pre-literate societies cannot be underestimated, for the oral arts have functioned throughout the millennia as the primary channel for sustaining history, myths, customs, laws, knowledge, and beliefs, thereby linking the first ancestor with all who follow. This is so beautifully illustrated by the Akha saying: "If a village has no music, how can it be called a village?”

Origins of the Songs of Memory Project

Tribal music of Asia

During my many travels trekking to remote mountain enclaves throughout the Golden Triangle, I invariably found myself the only visitor in the villages. This compelled me to document all that I witnessed, in as many forms as possible. So it came to pass that, after four non-stop years, I had amassed a wealth of film footage, images, recordings, journals, musical instruments, and textiles.

The years following this fieldwork were spent assimilating and integrating these materials. It was rewarding to watch a complementary range of media emerge—photo exhibitions; a series of educational films; illustrated presentations; and the Songs of Memory book and compact disc.

With time, the project culminated in the Songs of Memory museum exhibition, a multi-media display that presents comprehensive collections of musical instruments, tribal textiles and jewelry, films, and photographs of the six major tribal groups living in the Golden Triangle—the Hmong, Mien, Lahu, Akha, Lisu, and Karen.

It is hoped that these independent media, when woven together, form an interdisciplinary whole, providing a deeper, truer, more meaningful experience into the traditional highland culture of Southeast Asia.

Tribal Music Asia Site

Tribal music of Asia

This site offers a glimpse at the varied components of the Songs of Memory project, in a multi-media format. You will be able to experience the above trailer, slide shows of exhibits and photographs, and recordings of traditional music.

The site provides information about the materials I have created, which offer a deeper understanding about these hilltribe peoples and their music: the Songs of Memory Book, CD, Photographs, Educational Film Series, Multi-media Museum Exhibition, and Photos Exhibits.

As the project finds its way in the world, the News and Events section will be regularly updated.

This website is also the source for ordering the Songs of Memory materials – Book, CD, Note Cards, and Golden Triangle poster. Your purchases actively support the continuation of this archival research.

With gratitude for your interest in the Songs of Memory archives,


Intangible Legacy
The oral traditions found in the Golden Triangle, which were once so vital a century ago, are in jeopardy of vanishing with the wind. We must bear witness to the majesty and diversity of cultures on our planet by making a commitment to swift action, preserving those arts that are in decline and safeguarding those that continue to live and evolve in this new age. Should we lose any of these, we will surely lose a part of the soul of our humanity.

I offer my sincerest gratitude to the following donors
for showing their belief in the Songs of Memory Project in 2014,
enabling the educational films to move to the next level.

Leslie and David Bosch
Frankel Family Foundation
Mary Averill
Lena and Brian Young

If the Songs of Memory project has a resonance for you, please do consider supporting the documentation. This project receives not-for-profit status under the auspices of the International Documentary Association in the United States. You can receive their letter of recognition – IDA Letter, and a link to my project on their site – Sponsorship through IDA.

Marsh And Philip Dowd Jim Thompson House
The Golden Triangle The Tamarind Village
The Franfel Family Foundation
        Tilleke and Gibbins Leslie and David Bosch The Siam Commercial Bank The Cecilian Singers        
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