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The pattala (Burmese: ပတ္တလား, Burmese pronunciation: [pattəlá]; Karen: paw ku[1]; Mon: ဗာတ် ကလာ) is a Burmese xylophone, consisting of 24 bamboo slats (called ywet / ရွက် or asan အဆံ) suspended over a boat-shaped resonating chamber.[2][3] It is played with two padded mallets.[2][3] The pattala is tuned similar to the diatonic scale.[2]

Percussion instrument
Other namesBurmese xylophone
Classification Percussion instrument
DevelopedBefore 1479
Related instruments
Ranat ek, Roneat ek
More articles
Music of Myanmar

In pre-colonial Burma, the pattala was used in royal court music.[4] In fact, when the piano was first introduced to the Burmese court in the late 1800s, it was tuned to the scale of the pattala.[4]

In modern days, classical Burmese chamber music is accompanied by either the pattala or the saung (the Burmese harp), both of which are capable of performing a harmonic countermelody.[5] The pattala is also a key instrument in the Burmese ensemble orchestra, the hsaing waing.[6] The pattala is also prominently featured in Burmese drama, anyeint.[7]



The earliest historical mention of the pattala is in the Kalyani Inscriptions and dates to CE 1479.[7] The pattala is similar to other mainland Southeast Asian instruments, including the ranat ek and the Cambodian roneat ek.


A Pattala being played. 19th century Burmese watercolour

The bamboo slats are typically made from the wood of giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus), which is durable and produces a stable sound.[2] Slats are occasionally made from brass or iron.[2] The mallets are made from hardwoods such as teak, padauk, black cutch, yindaik, or pyinkado.[2] The resonance box is made from teak and decorated with inlaid glass or gold leaf.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cooler, Richard M. (1995). The Karen Bronze Drums of Burma. BRILL. p. 29. ISBN 9789004099333.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g 簡約雍容狂野. 國立傳統藝術中心. 2006. pp. 112–113. ISBN 9789860059182.
  3. ^ a b A Description of the Burmese Empire. Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. 1833. p. 128.
  4. ^ a b Parakilas, James; E. Douglas Bomberger (2002). Piano Roles: A New History of the Piano. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300093063.
  5. ^ Rice, Timothy (2011). Ethnomusicological Encounters with Music and Musicians. Ashgate Publishing. p. 185. ISBN 9781409434023.
  6. ^ Brandon, James R. (2009). Theatre in Southeast Asia. Harvard University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9780674028746.
  7. ^ a b "Musical Instruments - Xylophone (Pattala)". Union of Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2013.