Myanmar/Burma: Ban on Western musical instruments

6 January 2010


Burma’s Ministry of Culture has ordered the country’s traditional Saing orchestras not to use Western musical instruments — a move likely to reduce the popularity of many of the groups.

The new regulations were reported by the Rangoon journal The Voice, which said they had been issued to the Central Theatrical Asi-ayone (Centra Theatrical Asociation) and the 47 Saing orchestras in Mandalay division.

The regulations also require Saing orchestra performers to wear traditional clothes. Disco strobe lighting and loudspeakers are allowed, however.

The Saing orchestras, in which percussion instruments dominate, traditionally provide the musical accompaniment for performances of Zat Thabin drama. The traditional Saing orchestra consists of a central circle of 21 drums, a circle of gongs, a single large drum, cymbals, a wind instrument similar to an oboe, a bamboo flute, bamboo clappers, and a bamboo xylophone. Sometimes a Burmese harp, completes the ensemble.

Violins, mandolin, Chinese lutes, Hawaiian slide guitar and banjos are among the foreign instruments that have become regular features of Burmese musical ensembles.


  Click to read more about music and censorship in Burma/Myanmar
Myanmar / Burma 


The Irrawaddy – 29 December 2009:
‘Western Instruments Outlawed from Traditional Orchestras’

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Search: ‘Burma’ + ‘Music’



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