Songs of Memory
Warmest wishes to you from Thailand. The Songs of Memory Project has experienced a dramatic year made of many moving parts. This has led to a multi-faceted approach not only to document rare and vanishing musical traditions of the Golden Triangle but also to share them with indigenous peoples and beyond.
Between five field excursions, five presentations, three exhibits, the completion and launch of the Songs of Memory Book and Recordings, outreach, journals, and – drum roll, please – my deep dive into social media with daily posts on indigenous culture, this has been a season of ‘planting and harvesting’ the fruits of these archives.
Please enjoy this annual Newsletter 2022, which offers a colorful, dynamic visual of the people and activities in ‘town and country’ in the unfolding growth of the Songs of Memory Project.
Massive gratitude to all of you for your interest in and support of this endeavor. Wishing you every happiness in the coming cycle of seasons, Victoria
Facebook: Victoria Vorreiter
Songs of Memory Book and Recordings
Ou Sa, Su Mwee, and Keu Choi, S’gaw Karen Villagers
Looking at Karen Chapter on the Klo Bronze Drum
Songs of Memory Book and Recordings
Ban Mae Wa Luang, Tak Province, Thailand
Songs of Memory
Traditional Music of the Golden Triangle:
Karen, Hmong, Iu Mien, Lahu, Akha, and Lisu
Essays, Photographs, Recordings
by Victoria Vorreiter
A new edition of the Songs of Memory Book and Flash Drive is now hot off the press! Including expanded text, rare documentation of newly found, seldom heard musical traditions in the Golden Triangle, and detailed liner notes, this updated Songs of Memory archive offers readers and listeners an absorbing multi-sensory experience to explore the ancestral music, ceremonies, and culture of the mountain peoples of Southeast Asia—the Karen, Hmong, Iu Mien, Lahu, Akha, and Lisu. Vivid accounts of musicians, spirit intermediaries, ritual specialists, headmen, wise elders, craftsmen, and villagers are brought to life by over 800 color photographs and dynamic recordings of sacred and secular music (78 minutes).
Book: Resonance Press, June 2022
227 pages, over 800 photographs
10.75” x 9” / 27.6 x 23.3 cm
Recordings: Resonance Press, April 2009
78-minute Flash Drive
ISBN: 978 – 0 – 99812391 – 1 – 2
Songs of Memory Book / Flash Drive
Hmong Songs of Memory Book / DVD
26 November 2022
Dear Victoria, Your book, your experiences, your knowledge, are the charmest, the greatest, and the most wonderful presentation I ever met in research works; it included so many aspects of knowledge–music. technology, anthropology, culture, and folk lore all in one. Thank you very much for your great contribution for academic world. I really appreciate what you have done for the world. Sincerely yours, Jarernchai Chonpairot.
Dr. Jarernchai Chonpairot
Professor of Music, College of Music
Mahasarakham University, Thailand
“Songs of Memory is a rare jewel, a book to be cherished and, hopefully, to serve as a further stimulus for preserving the rich musical traditions and ceremonies of the Golden Triangle ethnic groups. Victoria Vorreiter is the best kind of explorer, someone who is curious, committed, and compassionate, a woman who sits around village fires with people who trust her enough to share their music, and by doing so, share their cultural treasures.
Dig into this book, admire Vorreiter’s hundreds of glorious photos, and become transported by the 78-minute compilation of celebratory songs, sacred chants, and instrumental music that are an essential part of the souls of these exceptional people. She has come to the scene with an open heart and sensitive eye to reveal these touching, often threatened, musical wonders to you. Victoria is special and I hope the universe recognizes that.
Paul Spencer Socharczewski
Author, Searching for Ganesha
River Books, Kinokuniya Books, Tamarind Village, B2S, Asia Books (AB Chiang Mai, Silom Complex, Siam Paragon, Robinson Khonkean, Bluport Huahin, Central World Bangkok, Central Bangna, Central Chaengwattana, Central Phuket, Paradise Park, Maya Chiang Mai)
Super Moon Book Launch and Reception
Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center Courtyard
Three King Monument
13 July 2022
Mizzima Myanmar News & Insight
“Songs of Memory Book and Recordings Offer Insight into the Indigenous Cultures of the Golden Triangle”
Issue 29, Vol. 11, 14 July 2022
Asian Review of Books – Announcement
“Songs of Memory: Traditional Music of the Golden Triangle” by Victoria Vorreiter
12 August 2022
Social Media – Facebook and Instagram
Daily Entries Exploring Traditional Culture
Meaningful cultural photo-essays from the Songs of Memory Archives: Photos, Recordings, and Journals have been posted every day for one year (!) on Facebook and Instagram (27 November 2021—27 November 2022), exploring traditional indigenous culture.
A spectrum of themes are highlighted that seem to magically, serendipitously lead to others—from courtship music to courtship bags to the Eng Fertility Festival; from New Year altars to New Year rituals to New Year dancing to New Year games, food, and children’s attire; from silver-smithing to ‘Silver Jewelry in the Golden Triangle.’ To friends old and new who have followed the jungle path with me every day, please know I am incredibly grateful.
9 May 2022
I could easily do the thousand words to express my gratitude to this amazing young woman pictured here. I have spent the last several days looking and reading her posts and feel a connection in our shared fascination with tribal lives. Please keep doing this chronicle of words, photos, and recordings. The next generation will lose many of the vanishing customs you record. A book sometime.
15 March 2022
I am very impressed by your meticulous documentation of these people’s lives. Quite amazing. The kind of fieldwork you are doing is precisely what anthropologists do to get their PhDs. And what strikes me each time, is how comfortable people seem to be photographed by you. Clearly you manage to establish a very good rapport. You are a star in your field. Must do the book!
Peter ten Hoopen
Ikat Textiles of the Indonesian Archipelago
25 April 2022
What a treasure you have produced! To gain the trust of the people to be able to take these pictures and document this incredible way of life is a gift very few could ever even imagine. I feel very fortunate to “see” this gift that is your talent. “Thank you” seems so inadequate.
May the Circle Be Unbroken
The Importance of Preserving and Sustaining Intangible Heritage
Chiang Mai International Rotary Club
5 April 2022
Hmong Threads of Life
Oxford Asian Textile Group
21 April 2022
Traditional Ethnic Culture Revealed
Images, Stories, Songs, and Threads
Chiang Mai, Thailand
4 August 2022
Songs of Memory:
Soundscape of the Arc of Life in Seven Songs
Chiang Mai Ex-Pats Club
28 August 2022
Cultural Treasures of the Golden Triangle
50th Anniversary – Thai Federation of Business and Professional Women
Shangri La Hotel, Chiang Mai
11 November 2022
HMong Culture and Society in St. Paul, Minnesota: The Hmong Songs of Memory Film was featured during a course on Hmong music and film. (24 April 2022)
UCLA School of Music: The Songs of Memory Book with Recordings was used by Dr. Helen Rees in fall 2022 as a source for the music of “minority” groups of mainland SE Asia in her Asian music survey course for music majors.
A photograph of Kai Vaj, a White Hmong weaver working on her back-strap loom, from the Songs of Memory Archives, was chosen to appear in the new book, “Hmong Reverse Appliqué: Cultural Meaning and Significance,” by Linda Gerdner (Pizzicato Press). All funds from the purchase of the book go to fund the Hmong Cultural Center Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Research / Documentation Forays
Since January 2022, five archival field trips to villages in northern Thailand have been carried out to record, photograph, and document very rare Akha, Karen, and Iu Mien instruments and rites that are quickly disappearing. All of these traditions are now documented in the new edition of the Songs of Memory Book.
‘The Value of Journaling’
Ninety-two field trips – Four countries – Hundreds of villages – Thousands of People – Nineteen years
Journal – October 2022
Dr. Terry and Sara Miller
This Newsletter 2022, nay this entire year of archival work and outreach, is dedicated only to Dr. Terry and Sara Miller. Your belief in the promise of the Songs of Memory Project—and in its independent shepherd—and your unflagging support have made it possible for this initiative to grow in breadth and depth. I will never be able to express the profoundness of my gratitude.
Many others have also shown their steadfast faith in this worthy archival project, whose intention is to preserve and sustain the intangible heritage of the peoples of the mountains in the Golden Triangle. I would like to thank each of them with my heartfelt appreciation.
Songs of Memory Project
Marsha and Philip Dowd
The Frankel Family Foundation
Leslie and David Bosch
Golden Triangle Gallery
Jim Thompson Foundation
Lena and Brian Young
Carol Andrix and Steve Kuch
Cultural Crossroads Center
Sara and Terry Miller
The International Documentary Association (IDA) has accepted
The Music of the Golden Triangle project in its Fiscal Sponsorship Program
allowing it to receive non-profit status in the US.
IDA Letter of Endorsement
If the Songs of Memory archival work resonates with you,
please consider helping it continue.
To order the Songs of Memory materials, please visit:
Facebook: Victoria Vorreiter