by: Vuthyro Chuon
Chappei Dorng Veng is one of the Khmer classic musical instruments which our ancestors have passed on to this generation. It looks like a guitar, but it has only 2 strings. Based on some documents, this instrument has come into existence for more than a thousand years in the Kingdom. However, it seems to have lost its popularity in the last century.
I have listened to many songs regardless of the languages such as Thai, Chinese, or English. Those songs always have musical instruments playing along with the singing. What is unique about Chappei Dorng Veng is that the singer will not play the music while singing, and vice versa. From what I know, there is no kind of art similar to that. This instrument is normally played by our classical artists who have learned and practiced many years on how to perform. A song can last for 6 minutes at most, but Chappie Dong Veng will last for at least 1 hour and the artist keeps singing every time. It is also played while narrating Khmer traditional legends. Sometimes it is performed by 2 artists, and both of them will challenge each other regarding intelligence, allegories, problem-solving among other things.