Vorn Narot, 22, a student of biology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, has been fascinated by traditional Khmer musical instruments since he saw, at the age of 9, one of his neighbours playing the “tro soa”. He started trying to play it himself, and has been playing ever since.
“I fell in love with Khmer instruments. Then I tried making one myself. The sound wasn’t good, but I kept practicing, even when I went to tend the cows in the rice field,” Mr Narot said.
Mr Narot taught himself to play a song called “Arab Pi Ya”. When he he was in Grade 8, he asked his father to buy a “tro soa” for him, and he learned to play many songs.
Mr Narot recalled that, “When I moved to live here [Phnom Penh], I had a chance to study many Khmer instruments such as the ‘tro soa,’ ‘tro ou,’ the Khmer flute, the ‘roneat-ek,’ and many types of drum. I am a quick learner because I have a natural talent.”
Mr Narot said traditional instruments embody Khmer culture. It would be great, he said, if more people could help preserve them by learning them and studying classical music. He said he hoped that all of the Khmer arts survive for a long time.