Tribal Music Asia:
The Music of the Golden Triangle

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The Resonance Project Tribal Music Asia Tribal Music Asia

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 / Flash Drive Songs of Memory Flash Drive / CD Songs of Memory Exhibition
Hmong songs of memory book Hmong Songs of Memory Hmong songs of memory exhibit
Hmong Songs of Memory Book / DVD 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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Newsletter - December 2023
Newsletter - December 2022
Newsletter - July 2022
Newsletter - December 2021
Newsletter - December 2020
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



Journal - December 2022
Journal - October 2021



Akha Oral Tradition School
Imparting Ancestral Wisdom to Akha Youth
Chiang Mai International Rotary Club
4 June 2024

Akha Oral Tradition School
Imparting Ancestral Wisdom to Akha Youth Northern Illinois University School of Music
DeKalb, Illinois
23 April 2024

Akha Oral Tradition School
Imparting Ancestral Wisdom to Akha Youth UCLA School of Music
World Music Center
19 April 2024

The Splendor of Yao Textiles
Host: Thai Textile Society
Venue: Siam Society
Under Royal Patronage
Bangkok, Thailand
11 November 2022

Why Music Matters:
The Power of Music and the
Importance of Music Education
(Virtual Presentation)
Russia Suzuki Group
Moscow, Russia
16 April 2023

The Arc of Life in Seven Songs:
Songs of Memory in the Golden Triangle
25th Intl Conference
Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology
Siem Reap, Cambodia
4 – 6 March 2023

Soundtrack of Life in Seven Songs
Chiang Mai International Expats Club
Chiang Mai, Thailand
27 August 2022

Traditional Ethnic Culture Revealed
Images, Stories, Songs, and Threads
Payap University
Chiang Mai, Thailand
4 August 2022

Super Moon Book Launch and Reception
Songs of Memory
New Edition with Flash Drive of Music
CM Arts and Cultural Center Courtyard
Chiang Mai, Thailand
13 July 2022

Hmong Threads of Life
Oxford Asian Textile Group
Oxford, England
21 April 2022

May the Circle Be Unbroken
The Importance of Preserving and Sustaining Intangible Heritage

Chiang Mai International Rotary Club
5 April 2022

Bridging the Realms of Mortals & Deities:
Hmong Spirit Intermediaries

3rd Symposium of Music
in Cross-Border Ethnic Groups
Yunnan Arts University
Kunming, China
23 November 2021

Sonic Surroundings:
Music's Role in the Creative Process
An Interview with Ed Paschke
Interview Transcript
Chicago, May 1998

Hmong Songs of Memory
Hmong Threads of Life
Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center
Luang Prabang, Laos
1 February 2020

Oct Pop Tok
Luang Prabang, Laos
30 January 2020

Payap University
Chiang Mai, Thailand
12 December 2018

Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Hong Kong
25 April 2018

Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong
Hong Kong
24 April 2018

Bangkok Textile Society
Bangkok, Thailand
24 February 2018

Siam Society
Bangkok, Thailand
22 February 2018



Bedazzling Kaleidoscopes in Cloth
The Art of Karen Weaving

Heart Space Gallery
Chiang Mai, Thailand
19 November – 31 January 2024

Cultural Treasures
of the Golden Triangle

Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Symposium
Asian Political and International Studies Association (APISA) Conference
Chiang Mai University
8 – 11 December 2022

Cultural Treasures
of the Golden Triangle

50th Anniversary – Thai Federation of Business and Professional Women
Shangri La Hotel, Chiang Mai
11 October 2022

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

Pah Thai Magazine / Thai Textile Society
Volume XI, Issue No. 2 – Autumn 2023
A Bounty of Bags in the Mountains:
Functional, Festive
Devotional, Defensive

Cover, and 14-Page Spread

Asian Review of Books Announcement
"Songs of Memory
Traditional Music of the Golden Triangle"

12 August 2022

Mizzima Weekly: Myanmar News & Insight "Songs of Memory:
Book and Recordings of the
Indigenous Cultures of the Golden Triangle"
12 August 2022

Hmong Ancestor Wisdom:
Surviving Covid-19

May 2020

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
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)
Hmong Songs of Memory Book / Film

December 2018

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

December 2018

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

December 2018

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

Winter Quarter 2017

Journal of Urban Culture Research
Chulalonghorn University
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,


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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.

Exhibitions, Photographs, Talks,
Books, Articles, Film, Recordings


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.



What began as a three-year initiative documenting through film the ancestral culture of the mountain peoples of Southeast Asia has now expanded and transformed into a much bigger venture spanning sixteen years. Combining films with books, articles, recordings, photographs, and exhibitions, I trust, creates a more fulsome archive providing the indigenous peoples a record of their culture before it changes or disappears, and those who are interested a more holistic understanding. Yet, with every step there still seems to be new paths to follow. As the initiative grows, so does my resolve in preserving indigenous traditions and ensuring they are sustained for new generations. More is yet to come, to be revealed on an ‘auspicious moon.’

All to say, I am so very grateful to those who have believed in the Songs of Memory archives over the years. The trajectory of this independent researcher, through the joys and challenges, has been the honor of a lifetime. While I cannot list here all of the many friends, colleagues, and organizations who have supported this initiative, please know you all are appreciated for having helped make this a reality. And in kind, I trust that this body of work lives up to your belief as it celebrates the rich cultural tapestry of humankind in the Golden Triangle.


Songs of Memory Project

Founding Patrons
Marsha and Philip Dowd
Frankel Family Foundation
Leslie and David Bosch
The Golden Triangle Gallery
Jim Thompson Foundation

2022 Donors
Doree Huneven
Helen Brunner
Lena and Brian Young
Carol Andrix and Steve Kuch
Dolly Scott
Mick Jackson
Rose Spinelli
Diane and Shev Ciral

Cultural Crossroads Center

2022 Donors
Doree Huneven
Sara and Terry Miller
John Schorr


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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