The powerful Khmer Empire that was not inferior the ancient Chinese Empire, existed for a long time in Cambodia as the most prosperous era of this country. It even extended the border over Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. As a result, there was a diversity of traditional musical instruments in which many of them are still preserved and developed until now.

Takhe may be the most popular musical instrument in Cambodia. A Takhe is propped by from three to five legs. When performing, the player sits beside it, the left hand runs up and down the strings while the other one plucks that strings with a plectrum.
Takhe means crocodile because from above, it looks like a crocodile. Besides, the frets are also similar crocodile’s teeth. Earlier, Cambodian people often carved the image of a crocodile on the instrument but today, this occurs uncommonly.

A traditional Takhe is a rectangular shape with the pointed front part and the body (called “Thung” in Cambodian language) is bigger. “Thung” is often made of a kind of hardwood such as “Khnor” that there are twelve frets on the sound board. Besides, there are three tuning pegs and a bridge that helps to elevate the strings. All of them are made from the animal’s bone or hard wood. The strings are made of metal or bronze, and the tail piece is usually made from a thin piece of bronze.

Takhe is often used in wedding ceremonies. Besides, nowadays, it is played in modern music shows. The quality of the sound of Takhe depends much on the skill of the musician.

Cambodia musical instrument - Takhe

Cambodia musical instrument – Takhe

Chapei Dang Veng
Chapei Dang Veng is a solo instrument which is played when the musican tells folk stories in traditional wedding ceremonies. It is very popular in Cambodian traditional weddings, is a favourite musical instrument of them. Besides, it is used as a background in a fun duel of words between two people.
The wood for making Chapei Dang Veng is carefully chosen, so its sound is very beautiful, attracting the listeners.

A Chapei Dang Veng has a long neck made of Krasang – a special kind of wood that can resist the steam and the bending. The neck leads to a square sound box made of Rang wood; sometimes it has the shape of a pineapple. This box has the role of adjusting the sound.
On the top of the neck, there are three or four wooden tuning pegs and four silk strings. There are twelve frets on the sound board that each of them has a small cut on them to prevent the string from slipping as well as to help maintain the tension.

Cambodia musical instrument - Chapei Dang Veng

Cambodia musical instrument – Chapei Dang Veng

Kse Diev
Kse Diev (also called Sadiev) is supposed to be one of the most ancient Khmer musical instruments in Cambodia. Tourist can encounter the images of this instrument on the carvings in many Angkor structures.

Kse Diev is also played in wedding ceremonies, telling Khmer folk tales. However, it is not longer too popular these days because it is very difficult to play this instrument.

Kse Diev is made from a half of a dried gourd; it plays the role as the sound box. When performing, the musician puts the open side of the gourd across the chest; the chest cavity is like as a sound resonator. The closed side is attached to a piece of wood of about 40 cm long. There is only one string that connecting the two ends. It can be made of cotton or any strong vegetable fibre.

The neck and the tuning pegs are made of hard wood. The neck is usually carved with the image of a snake’s head, sometimes it is decorated with ivory.

When playing Kse Diev, musicians use a fake nail which is often made of copper, worn on the fourth finger of the right hand, whereas, the fingers on the left hand run up and down the string as well as close to the sound box.

Cambodia musical instrument - Kse Diev

Cambodia musical instrument – Kse Diev