Songs of Memory Journal

October 2022

Tribal music Asia Journal 2022

My Tribal Flat in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Notebooks of VV Journal Notes
Musical Instruments, Hats, Hmong Textiles, Photographs
Ninety-two Field Trips – Hundreds of Mountain Villages – Thousands of People
Thailand, Myanmar, China, Laos
2004 – 2022

Tribal music Asia Journal 2022
Tribal music Asia Journal 2022
Tribal music Asia Journal 2022
Tribal music Asia Journal 2022
Tribal music Asia Journal 2022
Tribal music Asia Journal 2022

This Journal 2022 sprang from two Facebook entries on Akha courting music in my series on ‘Courtship in the Golden Triangle’, one of many daily posts created from November 2021 through November 2022. Preparing such photo-essay-recordings had me digging deep in my personal journals.

The following piece is the outcome of my posts on 4 and 5 October 2022:

The Value of Journaling
Ninety-two Field Trips – Hundreds of Mountain Villages – Four Countries
Thousands of People – Nineteen Years

Something revelatory happened while preparing two Face Book entries in November 2022 on Ae Phiyo wooing Beu Bo in their Loimi Akha village in Myanmar. In reading my journal notes from 2006, the first time I have done a deep dive since writing them, I came upon the following reflection that speaks to the value of documenting everything that I experience on my forays—professional and personal. Committing to memory and page my encounters and observations in mountain villages in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and China these past two decades has illuminated my understanding and enlightened my life.

Excerpt from VV Journal
The Last Day of the Year of the Dog, 30 December 2006, Myanmar

“I have never been someone who journals. It requires much time and wearisome labor. But while doing research on tribal music, I felt it a necessary task to archive my work properly. I find though that once I am in the flow and digging deep into memory, I lose all sense of time, place, and self.

Most intriguingly I am amazed by the surprising and valuable disclosures that are revealed from going through the process. It is as if everything is connected – my encounters, readings, experiences, thoughts, feelings, relationships. Had I not written these down I would not have made correlations between them.

Whatever becomes of these vague notes in the future, many of these revelations leave me personally with an immense feeling for which I have no words, but which is deeply, sublimely fulfilling.

I give as a tiny example, the transformation I saw in Beu Bo—the comical moment when she yawned at the end of Ae Phiyo’s courting song, which, after I mimicked the gesture when filming had stopped, caused her to laugh unabashedly. Beu Bo’s reaction was a perfect bookend to my initial observation of her tranquil, impenetrable demeanor. The enigmatic queen is just a girl after all.

It is not the event itself that was so meaningful, although it was funny, but rather the awareness that every experience has a story—a beginning, middle, and end, whatever that end may be. And I receive it as such. Like a great novel, symphony, or film, like an epic poem, myth, or legend, life has an arc. Writing out this journal, with all its insipid details, allows me to see these arcs.

I have even begun to notice this phenomenon recently taking over my dream world. I thought dreams were floating coincidences that had no blueprint, no plan of consequences or motivations, where one event logically leads to another. But in fact I see that a sense of destiny is happening in my dream-state.

It seems unfathomable that my subliminal mind could design such journeys, and yet I have marveled many times at the knowing trajectory, be it unpredictable, of my subconscious flights. I must leave off giving an example here, for at the moment all my visionary reveries have escaped.”

(Excerpt from VV Journal, Myanmar, The Last Day of the Year of the Dog, December 2006)

Tribal music Asia Journal 2022
Tribal music Asia Journal 2022

Beu Bo and Ae Phiyo, Loimi Akha Couple
Singing a Ballad of Loneliness
Accompanied by the Akha Lute, Dheuham
Courtship Rites
Wan Dum Mung, Keng Tung, Shan State, Myanmar
December 2006

As Ae Phiyo sweetly serenades Beu Bo, the silver pendants of her headdress jingle ever so lightly with every move she makes. The aural experience is entrancing. Set against the blue Shan Hills, what woman would not fall in love with Ae Phiyo?

Third Loimi Akha Song: Loneliness without a Mate
“When I was born, I cried.
My crying stopped me from finding a wife.
My life is so poor to stay without a wife.”

“From the time I was born from my mother’s womb,
I have cried three times.
That is why I am in love with you.
I am lonely.
I have not yet found a mate, oh, beautiful Dum Mung lady.
Lonely, lonely, lonely. Lonely from deep in my heart.”
At the song’s end Ae Phiyo speaks: “Come out quickly, the mosquitoes are biting!”

(The mosquito reference seems to be a necessary element embedded in courting tradition (and reality), for later when we talk to the headman’s wife, she makes a similar statement along with gestures of swatting at her legs: “Come quick because the fleas of dogs and mosquitoes are biting me!” Then with her head and headdress thrown back, she laughs through blackened teeth!)

To hear Ae Phiyo courting Beu Bo, please visit:

For a deeper look,
please visit my daily Social Media Photo-Essays:
Facebook: Victoria Vorreiter
Instagram: vvorreiter

The International Documentary Association (IDA) has accepted
The Music of the Golden Triangle project in its Fiscal Sponsorship Program
so that it receives non-profit status in the US.
IDA Letter of Endorsement

If the Songs of Memory project resonates with you,
please consider helping it continue.
Sponsorship Information
Donate Now

To learn more about the Songs of Memory project
or to order the Songs of Memory materials, please
look through the website