Traditional Cambodian musical instruments

Traditional Cambodian musical instruments are the musical instruments used in the traditional and classical music of Cambodia. They comprise a wide range of wind, string, and percussion instruments, used by both the Khmer majority as well as the nation's ethnic minorities.

Cambodian musical instruments in the mid 19th century


Various Cambodian woodwind and string musical instruments at the "Sounds of Angkor" exhibition in Тheam's Gallery, Siem Reap, Cambodia.


  • Khloy (Khmer: ខ្លុយ) - vertical duct flute made of bamboo, hardwood, or plastic, with buzzing membrane


A Cambodian musical instrument called a Sneng ស្នែង, made from a cow's horn, sits in front of a water buffalo horn. The reed where the instrument is played is visible on the side of the horn.
  • Sneng (Khmer: ស្នែង) - water buffalo or ox horn with a single free reedphoto
  • Pey pok (Khmer: ប៉ីពក) - free-reed pipe[1][2] While similar to a flute, it uses a single reed to create sound.[2]photo
  • Ploy (Khmer: ព្លយខ្មែរ) (also called m'baut) - mouth organ with gourd body and five to seven bamboo pipes; used by Mon-Khmer-speaking upland ethnic minorities
  • Ken/Khaen (Khmer: គែន) - free-reed mouth organ used in northwestern Cambodia
  • Angkouch (Khmer: អង្គួច) (also called kangkuoch) - jaw harp made of bamboo or metal

Quadruple ReedEdit

  • Sralai (Khmer: ស្រឡៃ) - quadruple-reed oboe
    • Sralai toch (Khmer: ស្រឡៃតូច) - small quadruple-reed oboe
    • Sralai thom (Khmer: ស្រឡៃធំ)- large quadruple-reed oboe
  • Pey ar (Khmer: ប៉ីអៃ) (also spelled beyaw, and also called bey prabauh) - oboe with cylindrical bore



  • Slek - tree leaf used as a wind instrument


Various Cambodian string musical instruments at the "Sounds of Angkor" exhibition in Тheam's Gallery, Siem Reap, Cambodia.


  • Tro (ទ្រ) - fiddle
    • Tro Khmer (ទ្រ ខ្មែរ) - three-string vertical spike fiddle with coconut shell body; used in classical music
    • Tro che (ទ្រឆេ) - high-pitched two-string vertical fiddle, with face covered with snakeskin
    • Tro sau toch (ទ្រសោធំ តូច) - two-string vertical fiddle with hardwood body; used in classical music
    • Tro sau thom (ទ្រសោធំ) - two-string vertical fiddle with hardwood body; used in classical music
    • Tro u (also spelled tro ou) (ទ្រអ៊ូ) - lower two-string vertical fiddle with a coconut shell body, with face covered with calfskin or snakeskin; used in classical musicphoto


  • Chapei dong veng (ចាប៉ីដងវែង) - plucked fretted lute
  • Kong ring - bamboo tube zither, can play thet drum's part
  • Krapeu (also called takhe) - crocodile-shaped fretted floor zither with three strings
  • Kse diev (Khmer: ខ្សែដៀវ) or khse mhoy (Khmer: ខ្សែមួយ) - chest-resonated stick zither)photo
  • Pin - Cambodian harp, ancient instrument reborn in modern times




Various Cambodian drums at the "Sounds of Angkor" exhibition in Тheam's Gallery, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
  • Sampho (សម្ភោរ)- barrel drum, played with the hands
  • Skor (also spelled sko) - long skor drum
    • Skor thom (ស្គរធំ)- pair of large barrel drums, played with sticks
    • Skor yike (ស្គរយីកេ) - flat skor drum, played with hands and used in Yike dance drama
  • Thon, Skor daey and skor arak - goblet-shaped drums, played with the handsphoto
  • Rumana - frame drum, played with the hands

Gong chimesEdit

Instruments are (clockwise from front) gong chimes kong von thom and kong toch, roneat ek xylophone, samphor drum, skor thom drum, sralai toch and thom oboes in glass case, ching or chap small cymbals (also in glass case), roneat dek metal xylophone, and roneat thung bamboo xylphone (half in edge of photo).
  • Kong vong toch (also called kong toch) - small gong circle
  • Kong vong thom (also called kong thom) - large gong circle
  • Kong mon (also called kong mon) - small gong chime shaped curved


Roneat (រនាត)- trough-resonated keyboard percussion instrument; generally played with two mallets and used in Khmer classical and theater music



  • Krap (ក្រាប់) - pair of flat bamboo or hardwood sticks




King's dancers accompanied by musicians before 1900

Traditional Cambodian musical instruments play a significant role in the Cambodian culture.[3] These instruments are typically used during royal events, weddings, and festivals. For weddings and royal events, the musicians playing the instruments would wear traditional Cambodian attire. Just like the Chinese, with regard to playing context, there is no conductor in traditional Cambodian music because musicians generally learned and memorized how to play the instruments aurally. These instruments provide a sense of identity for the Cambodian people.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sovichet. "ប៉ីអ និង ប៉ីពក [Poetry and Songs]". ប៉ីពក (the name of the instrument in Khmer).
    Image of pei pok
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  2. ^ a b Ung, Chinary (1979). Cambodia Traditional Music (PDF) (Media notes). Tribe Music, Folk Music, and Popular Dances, Ethnic Folkways Records FE 4082. New York: Ethnic Folkways Records. p. 2. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  3. ^ May M. Ebihara, Carol Anne Mortland, Judy Ledgerwood. "Cambodian Culture Since 1975: Homeland and Exile". Cornell University Press, 1994

External linksEdit