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Hsaing Waing (Myanmar Orchestra) (Bamar)

The hsaing waing (also spelt saing waing) is a traditional Burmese folk musical ensemble, consisting of a number of different gongs and drums, as well as other instruments, depending on the nature of the performance. These include the hne (a double reed pipe), pat waing (a set of 21 drums in a circle), kyi waing (small bronze gongs in a circular frame), maung hsaing (larger bronze gongs in a rectangular frame), as well as chauk lon pat (a set of 8 tuned drums), and si and wa (bell and clapper). For more formal and classical performances, the ensemble may be accompanied by the saung gauk, the Burmese harp, the pattala, a Burmese xylophone, or the piano and violin, both introduced during colonial rule. Hsaing waing musicians use a hemitonic and anhemitonic scale similar to the one used by Indonesian gamelan musicians.

     Music of the hsaing waing is characterized by its lively and sudden contrasts and shifts in rhythm, melody and tempo. Anyeint dance performances, as well as nat gadaw and marionette puppet performances, are accompanied by the music of the hsaing waing, with the sudden shifts in musical rhythm reflected in the dancer's changing poses. However, classical singing, derived from royal chamber music, is almost exclusively accompanied by either a classical ensemble or a single saung gauk.

     Although the origins of the hsaing waing are unclear, the earliest pictoral evidence dates to the 17th century, coinciding with the Burmese invasion of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which may have brought back the concept of the gong and drum ensemble, although the hsaing waing differs greatly in its diversity of instruments and musical style from Thai ensembles.

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