From the website:
Begun in Vientiane in May 1999, the project was funded by DFG (German Research Association) and by GTZ (German Association for Technical Development Cooperation). It was affiliated with the Oldenburg-Ostfriesland-Wilhelmshaven in Emden Fachhochschule in close cooperation with the Museum of Ethnology in Berlin. From May 2001, the Phonogram Archives of project is privately funded by Dr. Gisa Jaehnichen. Tel.: 00856-21-251250Details of the recordings and current holdings:
Up until May 2002, the project made field recordings in the provinces: Huaphan, Luang Prabang, Xiengkhuang, Vientiane, Bolikhamsay, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Salavan, Attapeu, Sekong, Bokeo, and Champasak. The project includes 1123 audio recordings from 25 different ethnic groups, 1690 minutes video recordings, 764 photographs, 135 transcriptions of music and 70 drawings and descriptions of musical public. instruments, which are accessible for the public.They have made several tapes of this music available online, albeit with limited documentation. The first tape: Instrumental Music in Laos (Selection 1) features three recordings made of Hmong musicians. Each of the following may be streamed with RealPlayer. (Titles written as they appear on the website [i.e. with some spelling errors])
- Track 3: Hmong Lay Folksong: Tueoti / Pii Hmong (Flute) / Xamtai/1999
- Track 5: Hmong Khao Folksong: Khuamhak / Toen / Sam Neua/1999
- Track 6: Hmong Lay Folksong: Khithot Phusao / Phi Hmoung (Flute) / Sam Neua/2000
While I enjoyed listening to the recordings (which are of fairly good quality), I am even more fascinated by this tiny glimpse into the music and culture of Laos. Besides a few second-hand reports from Hmong Americans I have spoken with, there is very little information about Hmong music from contemporary Laos. Such a recording at least confirms that as recently as 2000, traditional forms of Hmong music were still practiced by Hmong in Laos. It would be more interesting to know the age of the performers: is the practice being maintained by the younger generation or are these older musicians? It would also be interesting to know more about the holdings of the archives, but I have been unable to find any information on the internet.
The rest of the music is well recorded and it is a treat to hear such a wide variety of performances. Definitely worth a listen. (There are three more tapes available at the website.) It's also worth noting that the SEAsite has lots of language and culture information about other countries in the region. Even the Lao website has much more to offer about Lao literature, arts, and folklore.