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Rhythm A Day Blog for March 2, 2020: Peasants Day, Myanmar

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Peasants Day, Myanmar 

The Union of Myanmar was known as Burma until 1989. It is bordered by China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India and has a population including over 135 ethnic groups! It was conquered as a province of British Colonially held India in the 1800s but became a self-governing colony in the 1900s, and finally achieved independence in 1948.

Flag of Myanmar

Myanmar Flag (Wikimedia Commons)

It was a Democratic Republic until 1962. That year General Ne Win established a military government by coup d'etat. Elections were held in 1990, and a party opposed to the military government won a landslide victory—and the military junta ignored the results, held onto their power, and continued their repressive regime.

Myanmar is primarily an agricultural economy, exporting beans, peas, black matpe, maize, sesame, Niger seeds, coriander, dry ginger, turmeric, red chili, and onions. They also export significant amounts of timber and rattan.

The country shows its appreciation for the peasant farmers by holding Peasants' Day as a national holiday every March 2. Ironically it was also on this day in 1962 that General Ne Win led the military coup and the country also holds parades on this day to honor him.

Rural farmer market traditional retail Ywama Inle Lake Myanmar

Vegetables for sale Ywama Market Inle Lake Myanmar
(Photo: amanderson2/Wikimedia Commons)

One of the many styles of drums ion Myanmar (remember those 130+ different ethnic groups—there are a LOT of different drums and drumming styles!) is the Dong Sun bronze drum, also known as a Rain Drum or sometimes Frog Drum as they were played to produce rain!

Dong Son bronze drum

Brass Dong Son Drum (Vietnam)
Photo by Binh Giang, released into Public Domain

I first saw these drums on Ebay; the description said they were positioned outside in gardens to allow the rain to play them. Embarrassingly, as a professional percussionist and constant drum tradition researcher, I believed this misinformation until I was researching them for this blog!

Here are some of the phrases heard in this style of play. 

Today's Video Lesson

And here is one of the source videos for the playing style and parts. See if you can locate which phrase(s) come from this footage!

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