Pin peat is a Khmer classical music genre that has been performed for centuries as the driving force behind classical dance and for sacred, royal, and religious ceremonies. It is the type of music that Chum Ngek and others in Cambodian communites across the globe choose to perform or play recordings of when they want to share Khmer culture with diverse audiences, create traditonal Khmer environments, and communicate with ancestor spirits.
Chamnan (full pin peat) from Homrong:Classical Music from Cambodia. Chum Ngek.
Prior to the looting of Angkor Vatt—a famous twelfth century temple located in Siem Reap, Cambodia—carvings of pin peat instruments appeared on the structure’s walls. Scholars have pointed to these images as evidence that pin peat music can be traced back to at least that era. Since that time, however, changes in the ensemble instrumentation have occurred. Today, the components of the orchestra include eight instruments: roneat aik, kong thom, kong toech, roneat thung, sralai, sampho, skor thom, and chhing. Each instrument in both of these ensemble types plays a vital role in and contributes an important effect to the performance of pin peat music.