I raise these hands up to you, Teacher, guru, of this song,
This melody, sung so long / Ago, before the Bo tree.

In your kind home you taught me / To chant Pali reverently,
Treat books with care, so gently, And to daily humbly pray

To the Three Jewels, our teachers / And all creatures, ’til the day
You and I must fade away, Die and decay, chasing peace.


Above: Khmer Arts Academy Performance, April 2009.

Last year when Trent Walker’s teacher (Prum Uth of Cambodian Living Arts) passed away, Trent was moved to write a song in English, sung in the meter of Smot chanting.

Smot is sung in Pali and Khmer, and an English approach demonstrates its vernacular utility. (Trent will be the first to admit that he’s not the world’s premiere Smot singer. However, in terms of innovation, he’s demonstrating some really interesting things about how we percieve this art form.)

Commonly, Smot is associated with funerals, but more broadly speaking it’s religious music, used for ceremonies, consecrations, healing, gift giving ceremonies and more. Get the full details on Trent’s blog.

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2 Responses to “‘Smot’ music in English”

  1. Mandevu says:

    Thanks for posting this. Good stuff!

  2. Trent Walker says:

    Thanks for putting this up on your blog.

    I’m beginning to record some of my translations into “Khmer-versified” English of Khmer texts up on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCdsQa2h79A

    If you or others are interested, I am also slowly putting up a large collection of “classic” smot and other traditional music recordings in the public domain (i.e. 1950-60s vinyl recordings transferred to cassette), together with descriptions, on my blog, ttwalker.blogspot.com

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