Revival of the Cambodia’s music as a form to sustain national identity : a case study of SmallWorld SmallBand in producing authentic songs

University essay from Lunds universitet/Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap; Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kommunikation och medier

Abstract: This thesis critically examines the experiences of young artists in Cambodia’s music industry with regard to their experiences of incorporating traditional instruments and genres into music-making processes. The investigation is based on a case study of an original music band known as SmallWorld SmallBand, which is one of the leading bands in Cambodia. Most songs produced by this band are contemporary genres, which combines traditional and modern musical instruments. The combination of these instruments and genres, selected from storytelling, literature, poems and real lives, is a sign of revival of national identity in an era of digital media. Additionally, this work also focuses on the values of originality and authenticity, which contribute to maintaining a sense of national identity. Although Cambodia’s contemporary music had reached a peak in the 1960s, the music industry was completely abolished during the Khmer Rouge between 1975 to 1979; only revolutionary songs were allowed to perform. The music industry marginally emerged after the war, and most songs were copied from the Western and Asian countries; making the originality and authenticity have been forgotten. Because of this phenomenon, the band composes music by introducing Khmer national identity, making their songs original and authentic. This thesis is adopted a qualitative multi-method which are genre analysis in supplementary with a data set of visual semiotic analysis and textual analysis of lyrics and an exclusive interview with the vocalist of the band. Furthermore, this thesis explores interactions and perceptions of audiences in the way that they have been engaged with social media, Facebook, concerning the music released by the abovementioned band. The review of previous works and existing literature serves as the baseline for this thesis. Finally, this thesis aims to make a contribution to the scholarly research in the contemporary music industry in Cambodia on the aspect of reviving the national identity, which is (re)shaped by original music-making. Given that this research topic is, to some extent, a ground-breaking research topic about the revival of Cambodian music via digital media, it is envisaged that findings will provide significance to research communities. This work inevitably has limitations due to its scope and timeframe. Having said that, in-depth research studies should be encouraged for undertaking studies about a similar topic by expanding the scope and employing a bigger sample size.

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