Tribal Music Asia Media Player
Hmong Threads of Life
International Hmong Symposium
Hmong Association of Thailand and
Hmong National Organization of Minnesota
2 - 3 January 2016
Chiang Mai University
Cultural Crossroads of the
Communication/Culture and Sustainable Development:
Challenges for a New Generation
17 - 21 December 2015
Chiang Mai University
Hands in the Earth,
Souls in the Heavens:
The Living Legacy of the
Mountain Peoples of Myanmar
"Burma/Myanmar in Transition"
24 - 25 July 2015
Chiang Mai University, Thailand
Reach Back, Reach Deep,
Presentation and Exhibit
"Partnerships for Change"
2 - 3 March 2015
Preserving Tribal Music and Ceremonies
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
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
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
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,