On the July 28, 2006 Radio Free Asia conducted a in-house recording session with Natasinh Dance Troupe of Iowa. The Laotian troupe was in Washington DC to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The recording session began at 10:00 AM and went late in the afternoon. There were eight musicians with large size traditional Laotian musical instruments performing vocal and instrumental pieces.
Traditional Lao instruments were played most notable being the Khene and Saw. The Khene is a mouth organ of Lao origin that dates back to the Bronze Age in which bamboo pipes are connected with a small, hollowed-out hardwood reservoir into which air is blown. The Saw is a two-string fiddle commonly played in Asia. The saw bow is played between the two strings.
The Lao Natasinh Dance Troupe of Iowa, based in Des Moines, is a group of Lao dancers and musicians trained in the Natasinh style of performance--the traditional forms, techniques and character of performing arts taught at the Ecole National de Musique et Danse Laotien (founded in Vientiane in 1956 to preserve Lao music and dance traditions). The genre includes court music for royal ceremonies and the classical dance-drama based on the Ramayana, the Hindu epic that depicts the life and struggles of the Buddha, as well as music and dance performed for social and ritual occasions.
In the early 1980s, the Natasinh Dancers and Musicians resettled in Des Moines, Iowa, thanks to Iowa's Refugee Resettlement Program and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Folk Arts, which enabled the group to tour the region and the U.S. The main purpose of the Natasinh Troupe is to teach and entertain at Lao Buddhist celebrations and to pass their skills on to young dancers and musicians in the Des Moines Lao community.
This complete TAM Session resulted in eleven song tracks which are loaded in the Tam Player below for your preview:
Music is ubiquitous in Laos. It is heard at Buddhist Temple functions, at celebrations and festivals, and at social events, accompanying sung poetry, dance, and religious rituals. As in other Southeast Asian cultures, music and dance in Laos can be divided into classical and folk traditions, though the division rests more in terms of performance context, whether performed in a temple/court setting or a village environment rather than in the repertoire or social class of the artists.
Click on the download icon above on the right-hand side of this page or click on this Direct Link to download this session's complete flack files.