Popular and Political Songwriting in Cambodia: From Sihanouk’s Prewar Golden Age to Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge By LinDa Saphan and Nate Hun

Hun, N., Kim, M., Lee, Y., Nelson, R., Oum, R. O., & Saphan, L.,(2021), The Golden Age of Cambodian Popular Music, Kim, M.(Ed.), Seoul: Hyunsilbook

김미정, 로저 넬슨, 린다 사판, 움 로따낙 오돔, 이용우, 네이트 훈, (2021), 캄보디아 대중음악의 황금시대, 김미정(엮), 서울: 현실문화


Music has been prominent in daily life in Cambodia since ancient times. Following centuries of political turmoil and warfare, Cambodia experienced a brief period of peace, prosperity, and modernization under King Norodom Sihanouk in the 1950s and 1960s, leading to a flourishing of music in the form of romantic songs followed by the arrival of a Western/Cambodian mix of rock and roll. Ultimately the majority of modern musicians were killed by the Khmer Rouge for their “antirevolutionary” music. Since gaining independence from France in 1953, Cambodia has experienced a series of rapid political regime changes, each characterized by authoritarianism. Each regime, from Sihanouk to Lon Nol, the Khmer Rouge, and Hun Sen, used music for political purposes. This chapter examines the lyrics of popular and political Cambodian songs from the prewar era to the Khmer Rouge (1953–1979), to understand how music both reflected and shaped changing sociopolitical currents. Keywords: Songwriters, composers, Cambodia, popular music.

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LinDa with Book