Thursday 5 April 2018

Khene : Laos Musical Instrument

One of the most unique instruments on the planet is Laos' own khene (noticable caan). The khene is a required accompanimet to Lao Lum or a lyrical freestyling of tunes sung by a Mor Lum or master vocalist or storyteller. 

Frequently a typical part of every day life, in some households as vital as chairs and tables, the khene is revered worldwide for its incredibly distinct ringing sound.

Pleased with the instrument, she took it to the leader of her area in an effort to promote it. The leader liked the sound, and considering that it was yet unnamed, he recommended she call it khene (" better") due to that it sounded better than the other instruments he 'd heard. Maybe the most appealing characterstic of the khene is that is its totally free reed which is either made with brass or silver. Nevertheless naturally none of these instruments are not typically made with bamboo.

The khene similarly has 5 numerous lai, or modes consisting of Lai Yai, Lai Noe, Lai Soutsanaed, Lai Po Sai, and Lai Soi. The khene can be played as a solo instrument (Dio Khene), as part of an ensemble (Ponglang), or as an accompaniment as mentioned in the past, to a Lao or Isan Folk Opera Singer referred to as a mor lam (or mor lum).

Legend has it that a woman who was attempting to please the King of Laos wished to replicate the noise that the garawek bird made while walking through the forest one day. Having really understood that her journey was long and tough which she could not securely continue due to that sunset was approaching, she decided to then develop an instrument that imitated the melodic bird whose sound was based entirely on her memory. She started by cutting a piece of bamboo and positioned a reed inside it.


It has 7 tones per octave, with periods similar to that of the Western diatonic natural A-minor scale: A, B, C, D, F, g, and e. A khaen can be made in a particular secret but cannot be tuned after the reed is set and the pipelines are cut. If the khaen is played together with other instruments the others have to tune to the khaen.

Bamboo tubes are bunched together to create the khene, and the instrument uses a totally free reed, which vibrates when air is blown past it. The most typical khene has 16 tubes of differing lengths, each with a brass reed within. 

The size of the instrument differs, from 61 cm, or 2 feet, as much as 250 cm, or 8+ feet. It has a droning, commanding presence, and can rather intriguing, typically vibrant music. It is most popular in backwoods of Laos.

The khene is played in different sort of settings: solo, with other instruments, or as part of a khene ensemble. It is generally made use of for vocalists performing Lao folk music, and for background music in theater. Interestingly, the khene is an instrument of the Lao people, meaning that it is popular both in Laos itself, in addition to the big Lao population in northern Thailand's Issan region.

*culled from

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