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Music of the Hmong People of Laos

Boua Xou Mua

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Album Review

Boua Xou Mua is a refugee from Laos living in Portland. This recording was made in response to a performance that Mua put on at the Dallas Folk Festival of 1991, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mua performs various works of Hmong (native Laotians) culture and ritual, as well as small improvisations on a few traditional instruments. The first three works are New Year's songs, as well as courtship songs, as the Hmong encourage courtship at the time of the New Year when the harvest is in. The first song is actually performed by Mua's son Lee, though the rest of the album is provided by Boua. The four pieces after the New Year's section are small improvisations on flutes, a leaf, and a Jew's harp, which are all used in courtship serenading by the shy, who prefer to use instruments to mimic a song (Hmong language is tonal in nature) than to sing forthright. Following this are two wedding songs, one to the parents of the groom and one to the parents of the bride. Two funeral pieces are next, and one final work, by Mua from a genre of Hmong song that has appeared after the country's involvement in the Vietnam War — a "Song of the Refugee," where the singer bids farewell to his beloved Laos. The music is very important culturally and ethnographically, as the Hmong are some of the more ignored peoples hailing from Asia. The sounds may be a bit rough for Western ears however, in their simplicity and dissonant intervals.

Music of the Hmong People of Laos, Boua Xou Mua
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: World, Music
  • Released: 1995

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