Stopover in Angkor
by Patrick Kersalé
Ethnomusicologist Patrick Kersalé plays a Khmer harp built thanks to his iconographical and musical research in Cambodia.
About the Author
Ethnomusicologist and music archaeologist Patrick Kersalé (1959, Nantes, France) has spent the past 30 years traveling around the world (primarily in West Africa, Southeast Asia, India, Nepal and Europe) in order to seek traditional music at risk of disappearing in order to preserve the memory and to develop programs for cultural conservation.
Patrick Kersalé has carried out many missions in Cambodia in order to collect audiovisual footage at archaeological sites, as well as music from ethnic minorities across Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces. SInce 2009, he has studied the musical instruments from the Angkorian era, through the iconography, inscriptions and archaeological objects. Based on that research, he has rebuilt extinct instruments from the 7th to 16th centuries. Several kinds of harps, zithers, cymbals, drums, trumpets, and conchs have thus literally been brought back to life.
During the last four years, he reconstitued a wooden chapei dang veng (lute) from a photograph of a female lute player taken by Emile Gsell circa 1866 in Phnom Penh, and finding a similar musical instrument from that period at the Music Museum (Musée de la Musique) in Paris.This labor of love, an exercise in historic research and technical prowess, is narrated here.
Patrick Kersalé is also the author of numerous CDs, mostly on the music of ethnic minorities, several books with CD on oral traditions, documentaries, educational DVDs, and articles.
Patrick Kersalé with his chapei in Siem Reap, Feb. 2021. Below, details of the musical instrument: