Abstract: The Kmhmu people have thrived in Southeast Asia since ancient times. Their ethnic group belongs to the Mon-Khmer family. The Kmhmu have deep roots in Animism and were expert hunters and gatherers. There are currently two Kmhmu groups living in Laos, which called Kmhmu Ou-Juang and Kmhmu Krong. The Kmhmu live at the foothills in mountainous areas. Modernization and Globalization have caused the Kmhmu’s traditions and cultures to rapidly change. They mainly now grow rice crops and their natural food sources have dwindled. Their arts and customs have also been deeply affected. One of the most important cultural identity of the Kmhmu is their music. The heart of the Kmhmu’s music is the Kieung Ensemble, which consists of 12 musical instruments. Eight instruments are percussions made from Bamboo of different lengths that produce their own unique rhythmic notes and sounds. The other instruments include Cymbals, Gong and Drums. The Kieung Ensemble is performed during rituals and celebrations in Kmhmu communities. The performance is also, used to visiting guests and also the Kieung Ensemble is displayed at national festivals to demonstrate the beauty of Kmhmu culture to others. Modern pop culture and western fashion is currently pushing traditional cultures of the Kmhmu towards extinction because many of the new generations view the ancestral treasures as out dated and useless. Urgent conservation and promotion of Kmhmu traditions and the Kieung Ensemble is underway to make sure that the valuable traditions are continued and be cherished for many generations to come. Standardized methods of teaching, projects to preserve bamboo forests and regular display of Kmhmu music during national festivals are currently being promoted.
Douangchampy Vouthisouk, Kantabhon Samdangdej and Pilanut Pusawisot, 2009. Development and Adaptation of Kmhmu Music of Lao People’s Democratic Republic: A Case Study of Kieung Ensemble Ban Na Muang Houn in Oudomxay Province. The Social Sciences, 4: 534-539.