Tribal Music Asia:
The Music of the Golden Triangle

           
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Songs of Memory Project

Traditional Music of the Golden Triangle


“Songs of Memory is much more than just a study of music. It is a tour de force.”
Asian Art Newspaper
Exhibts and Nediaa V. Vorreiter Asian Geographic -V. Vorreiter Oxford Asian Textiles Article
Overview: Exhibits and Media Asian Geographic Cover / Article Oxford Asian Textiles Article
     
Songs of memory book Songs of memory CD Songs of memory exhibition
Songs of Memory Book Songs of Memory CD Songs of Memory Exhibition
     
Hmong songs of memory book Hmong Songs of Memory Hmong songs of memory exhibit
Hmong Songs of Memory Book Hmong Songs of Memory Film Hmong Songs of Memory Exhibit
     

Ethnographic Film

Set against a rural backdrop of small, remote villages in northern Laos and Thailand, the Hmong Songs of Memory Ethnographic Film offers an intimate look at Hmong secular and sacred music that propels traditional daily life. Cycles-of-life pieces are performed through song, mouth harp, side-blown flute, folk clarinet, single free reed pipe, and multiple free reed pipes. Sacred chants and ritual percussion instruments unfold during a full shamanic healing ceremony. Translations appear in both the Hmong and English languages. (2016, 75 minutes)

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Newsletters

Newsletter - November 2019
Newsletter - November 2018
Newsletter - November 2017
Newsletter - December 2016
Newsletter - July 2016
Newsletter - July 2015
Newsletter - July 2014
Newsletter - July 2013
Newsletter - July 2012
Newsletter - February 2011

 

Presentations

Hmong Songs of Memory
Hmong Threads of Life

Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center
Luang Prabang, Laos
1 February 2020
Announcement
Description

Oct Pop Tok
Luang Prabang, Laos
30 January 2020
Announcement

Payap University
Chiang Mai, Thailand
12 December 2018
Announcement

Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Hong Kong
25 April 2018
Announcement

Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong
Hong Kong
24 April 2018
Announcement

Chiang Mai Ex-Pats Club
Chiang Mai, Thailand
24 March 2018
Announcement

Chiang Mai International Rotary Club
Chiang Mai, Thailand
20 March 2018

Bangkok Textile Society
Bangkok, Thailand
24 February 2018
Announcement

Siam Society
Bangkok, Thailand
22 February 2018
Announcement

Informal Northern Thai Group
Chiang Mai, Thailand
9 January 2018

 

Exhibitions


What’s Black and White
and Red All Over?

Photo Exhibit of the Golden Triangle
15 November 2019 – April 2020
Daifa Lifestyle Café
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hmong Songs of Memory
Hmong Threads of Life

Multi-media Exhibition
13th Intl. Conference on Thai Studies
Connectivity, Conflict & Conundrums
15-18 July 2017

10th Intl. Convention of Asia Scholars
ASEAN - One Vision, Identity, Community
CMU & IIAS, Netherlands
20-23 July 2017
Chiang Mai Intl. Convention Center

Hmong Songs of Memory
Hmong Threads of Life

Secular and Sacred Music and Textiles

Book, Film and Multi-media Exhibition
16 December – 30 April 2017
Tamarind Village
Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Splendor of
Myanmar's Traditional Arts:

An Exhibit of Photos, Textiles, and Crafts

Curated by Victoria Vorreiter
A Collaboration between
Mandalay and Chiang Mai Universities
7-8 March 2016
Mandalay, Myanmar
Detailed exhibition layout

Hmong Threads of Life

International Hmong Symposium
Hmong Association of Thailand and
Hmong National Organization of Minnesota
2 - 3 January 2016
Chiang Mai University, Thailand
Detailed exhibition layout

 

Articles & Reviews

Chiang Mai City News
Compassion in the Time of Covid
The Karen Way

2 May 2020

Journal of the Society of Asian Music
Volume 51, No. 1
Review:
Hmong Songs of Memory Book / Film

Winter / Spring 2020

Asian Geographic
No. 136, Issue 3/2019
Cover: Akha Peu Sau Girl, Laos
Article: A Trove of Cultural Treasure in
the Golden Triangle

June 2019

Hmong Studies Journal -
Volume 19 (2) (2018)
Review:
Hmong Songs of Memory Book / Film

December 2018

American Musical Instrument Society
Newsletter – Volume 47, No. 3 (Winter 2018)
Review:
Hmong Songs of Memory Book / Film

December 2018

Asian-European Music E-Journal -
No. 2 (Winter 2018)
Article:
Reach Back, Reach Deep, Reach Out:
History of the Songs of Memory Project

December 2018

Asian Art Newspaper
Review:
Hmong Rituals and Music
Hmong Songs of Memory Book/Film

Winter Quarter 2017

Journal of Urban Culture Research
Chulalonghorn University
Review:
Hmong Songs of Memory Book/Film

June 2017

Vogue Thailand
Review: Thread of Life Exhibition
March 2017

Asian Textiles Journal
The Oxford Asian Textile Group
Article: Hmong Threads of Life:
Traditional Hmong Textiles

November 2016

Review Vancouver
An Interview with Victoria Vorreiter
26 February 2014

Past Articles

 

Preserving Tribal Music and Ceremonies

Tribal Music 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.

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

 

 

 

 

Request an Exhibition or Presentation

If you or your library, university, cultural center, or museum
find inspiration in this body of work
please do reach out.
It would be a joy and honor to share these
archives with your community.

Overview:
Exhibitions, Photographs, Talks,
Books, Articles, Film, Recordings
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Sponsorship Opportunities

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.

Gratitude

The thrill I have felt in creating the Hmong Songs of Memory project is matched only by the great pleasure it has been to know and work with people who helped make it possible. It is said that to raise a child, “It takes a village”.
In the case of the Hmong Songs of Memory project, “It takes many villages.”

Hmong Villages

I am profoundly beholden to the many Hmong shamans, musicians, headmen, ritual specialists, artisans, men, women, and children in their mountain villages in Laos and Thailand who opened their hearts and hearths to me and shared their knowledge and musical talents. A thousand times, Ua tsaug ntau.

Tamarind Village

To Tamarind Village, I offer untold thanks for showcasing the Hmong Songs of Memory, Hmong Threads of Life archives in your elegant, idyllic space.

Sponsors

The Hmong Songs of Memory Project has thrived these past twelve years thanks to the steadfast belief of many who recognize the importance of preserving traditional, intangible culture and who support the work I have been doing to contribute to this end. With voice out loud, I thank you all most gratefully.

Frankel Family Foundation
Leslie and David Bosch
Marsha and Philip Dowd
The Golden Triangle Gallery
William Klausner
Liza Zinola
Lena and Brian Young
Mary Averill
Dorée Huneven
Marty Knight
Ron Simpson and Panya Suwan
Helen Brunner


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 Center for ethnic studies and development The Siam Commercial Bank The Cecilian Singers
 
All images and information copyright © Victoria Vorreiter.
All rights reserved.
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