Pin (harp)

The pin (Khmer: ពិណ) is a Cambodian harp, one of the most important instruments of the past, now being restored in modern times.[1] Its historical importance is emphasized by the very name for Cambodian classical music, pin-peat (Khmer: ពិណពាទ្). After the pin was no longer being used, Cambodians continued to use the instrument's name for classical music into the present era.[2] When the pin was no longer being used, the tonal range of other instruments was expanded, possibly to compensate.[3] Burmese saung gauk and roneats had more keys for the chromatic scale and the number of gongs in the kong von thom and kong toch "more than doubled in number since the musician depicted on the Angkorian carvings."[3]

The instrument appeared in Hindu religious art in temples dating back between the 7th and 13th centuries A.D.[4][5] The instrument was recorded in a bas-relief at Bayon, Cambodia, a Buddhist temple built in the 12th to 13th century A.D.[4] During the Angkor era from the 9th to the 14th centuries A.D., it was still being played in the royal Khmer ensemble.[4]

Reasons for its loss are theory. "One idea is that the instrument disappeared because of the development of the melodic percussion orchestra."[4] Another is that the instrument was lost in 1431 during the war that demolished the Angkor civilization.[6] Another is that it was associated with Hindu religion and as the country became Buddhist, it left the instrument behind with the old religion.[7]

Ethnomusicologist Patrick Kersalé, who has worked in Asia for more than 20 years, studied images left over from the past, "tracing out the shape of the harp."[8] He looked for clues to understand how the harps were used and made.[8] He also looked at similar instruments in the region, such as the Burmese saung gauk and harps of the Kareni people.[9] Kersalé asked Keo Sonan Kavei (a craftsman) to help him build the harp.[8] To help the instrument become part of active culture again, Him Sophy began to compose for it.[8]


  1. "Khmer Dictionary: ពិណ Chuon Nath's Khmer-Khmer Dictionary". Retrieved 27 October 2018. 1. ពិណ [1. Harp]
  2. "Khmer Dictionary: ពិណ Chuon Nath's Khmer-Khmer Dictionary". Retrieved 27 October 2018. ...2. Pinpeatya...As time passes, the Khmer people get rid of the harp, not including the band, but the music is still called the "Pinpet"...
  3. Ellen, Rosa. "The living sound of Angkor". Retrieved 27 October 2018. [This blog post appears to be from a Phnom Penh newspaper article; Rosa Ellen writes for the Phnom Penh Post.]
  4. Koam Chanrasmey (8 July 2013). Pin, the Sound of Angkor [Pin, the Sound of Angkor]. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  5. "Cambodian folk Music". Women's Media Center of Cambodia. Retrieved 27 October 2018. According to experts, the "harp" is a kind of traditional Khmer instrument from native to India. " Harp "has existed in Cambodia since the 7th century and disappeared in the late 12th century or early in the 13th century, according to Keo Sorunwy, professor of the Faculty of Education, Trei Royal University of Fine Arts.
  6. "[Do you know the harp?]". Retrieved 27 October 2018. These harps have ended their roles in Cambodian society since the destruction of Angkorian civilization before 1431 Nearly 90,000 Cambodians were killed...
    Photo of harps being incorporated into a modern theater showing traditional dance and music.
  7. "[Traditional harp instrument]". 16 June 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2018. Khmer harp instrument is a kind of music that is popular in dancing to gods in Hinduism...With harp music as a musical instrument, a kind of Hinduism, the presence of the musical instrument is also lost. When the Hinduism died before 1431, it was the year that the Khmer nation lost control of Kuluth with the Siamese...
  8. Loy, Irwin   (30 October 2013). "Cambodia works to revive an ancient harp, plucked from a temple wall". Public Radio International. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  9. GEOZIK (1 September 2017). "Escale en Mare Nostrum, Patrick Kersalé - Burmese harp saung gauk". Retrieved 27 October 2018. The Burmese saung gauk has all it take to tackle a wide musical repertoire. To prove it, here is a work with Mediterranean accents that allows to explore the instrument beyond its traditional use.
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