Music *

Musical Notation

Some musicians play by the ear. They may know musical notation, but they often want to improvise. Examples include the Saing Waing and the Jazz troupes.

Bands and orchestras use Music Sheets. Some Conductors add comments and instructions as guide lines for the musicians in the team.

I have learned basics, but I am not proficient.

  • Keys
  • Chords
  • Terms and symbols
  • Clefs
  • Mnemonics
    E-G-B-D-F : Every Good Boy Does Fine

It was not trivial to transpose music from a sheet into a different key until music software came along.

My uncle bought a new piano. He allowed me to play. He also bought a booklet for me. It had the Relative Notation (1 for DO, 2 for RE, …, and dots to denote the octave). I learned to play using that notation some of Mar Mar Aye’s song (e.g. “Thet Tant Baw Hmar Kasar Mei”).

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and versatile Keyboards come along.

The innovation & information/knowledge explosion are difficult to keep up. One simply has to selectively learn new things without getting burned out.

I am happy to remain a Jack of All Trades and Master of Some.


Musical Instruments


The Burmese classify musical instruments as

  • Kyay
  • Kyo
  • Tha Yay
  • Lay
  • Let Khoke

Myanmar Saing Waing has Jazz as a distant cousin. They perform extemporaneously.

Myanmar Dobat is often performed in Thingyan and at Ah Hlu.

Philharmonic orchestras have various sections. They include

  • Wind
  • Brass
  • Strings

Pop Bands

During our younger days, most pop bands had

  • Lead guitar (e.g. John Lennon)
  • Rhythm guitar (e.g. George Harrison)
  • Bass guitar (e.g. Paul McCartney)
  • Drums (e.g. Ringo Starr)

Some musicians play multiple instruments. Examples :

Paul McCartney plays the Bass guitar and sometimes plays the piano.
George Harrison plays the Rhythm guitar and plays the sitar.
U Aunt Gyi usually plays the Accordion, but he sometimes also plays the piano and the guitar. At the Farmers’ Market, I have seen musicians playing two instruments (harmonica & guitar) at the same time.

Some bands play special guitars. They include

  • Double stringed guitar (with twelve strings)
  • Steel guitar
  • Hawaiian guitar

String Quartets

A String Quartet may consist of

  • Violin
  • Viola
  • Cello
  • Bass

Visiting bands and musicians

During our younger days, several foreign bands and musicians visited Burma. They include :

  • Benny Goodman (saxophone) and his band
  • Duke Ellington and his band
  • 13th US Air Force band
  • US musicians (via the Cultural Exchange Program)


  • Piano means “soft”.
    Forte means “strong”.
    Pianoforte is a musical instrument that can play soft and hard notes.
    Commonly known as Piano.
  • Many composers (e.g. Chopin, Bach, Beethoven) created masterful pieces for the piano.
  • Pianos come in various sizes and flavors.
    Baby Pianos, Regular/Standard Pianos, and Grand Pianos.
  • Traditional piano comes with Black &White Keys, Pedals, Hammers to strike Strings.
  • Piano Tuner” is the name of a hit movie.
  • U Bo Gyi (A59, Uzin) and U Kyaw Oo (M67, GBNF) tuned their pianos.
  • Cousin uncle U Than Lwin owned two pianos.
    Played Classical music for the BBS English program — at the request of BBS U Hla Bu (Uncle Percy), Aunty Olive and Allison Gaudoin — at the old BBS station in Windermere Crescent.
    He allowed me to play on his new piano.
  • Composer U Hla Moe (a distant cousin) would visit U Than Lwin and practice / display some of his compositions.
  • U Than Lwin bought a new piano.
  • BBS had a program called “Keyboard Constellation”.
  • Horowitz, a renowned pianist, said, “If I don’t practice for a day, only I will know. If I don’t practice for three days, my mum will know. If I don’t practice for seven days, my audience will know.”


The Synthesizer can simulate many musical instruments.


Musical Software

  • Until musical software came along, it was not trivial to transpose music from a sheet into a different key.
  • The Book on BASIC had an example for transposition of musical keys.
  • Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and versatile Keyboards come along.
  • Innovation & information/knowledge explosion are difficult to keep up.
  • Selectively learn new things without getting burned out.


MIDI stands for Musical Instruments Digital Interface, Composition and play back of musical instruments can be done with the aid of MIDI.

Many automobile workers lost their jobs when robotics (and the related fields) gradually displaced them. Those, who did not have alternate skills, were hit hard.

Touch typists and secretaries found that their skills have been marginalized by the word processors, voice-activated systems and similar advanced tools.



Tape Recorder

  • In our younger days, high quality tape recorders (e.g. Ampex) were not easily available.
  • Burma Broadcasting Service (BBS) used Ampex.
  • Most people use Grundig, Sony, and Akai tape recorders with mono or stereo heads.
    The standard tape reels cover 1200 feet.
    Two tracks are recorded for mono.
    Four tracks are recorded for stereo.
  • Mogok Sayadaw’s dhamma talks were recorded by U Sway Tin (son-in-law of U Than Daing, co-founder of Mogok Yeiktha) and team.
    Over the years, the devotees have distributed Sayadaw’s talks with (a) tapes (b) cassette tapes (c) CDs and DVDs (d) memory sticks.
  • Some companies (e.g. SuperHet) distributed dhamma talks with the media (of the era).

Record (Dat Pya)

  • For some time, vinyl records were available.
    Even today, some (e.g. U Tin Myint (David Ko, M67)) prefer to build and maintain record players.
  • Burma Broadcasting Service (BBS) issued “Dat Pya” of selected musicians.
    Saya U Thet Lwin (former Registrar of RIT) received several Dat Pyas for his musical compositions (e.g. Mya Kyun Nyo Nyo Kun Yeik Kho). He received a remuneration of 100 kyats per “Dat Pya”, and treated his fellow Ah Nu Pyinnya Shins.


  • Technological advances have made the recording, copying and distribution of music, lectures easy.
  • Ethical issues
  • Legal issues
  • IP (Intellectual Property) issues
  • Copyright issues
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues


Stereo Khit

Tun Naung

  • Tekkatho Tun Naung (1st BDS) was selected Tekkaatho Lu Ye Chun for the Inlay Khaung Daing Camp in 1965. He was from the second batch of students from Dental College (later Dental Institute).
  • He used to play Mandolin placed on his back (preferably in front of the lady hostels).
  • He also entertained at the Camp by playing his mandolin.
  • He is credited as a co-founder of Stereo Khit along with Accordion Ohn Kyaw.


  • The evangelists include Min Min Latt and Kyawt Hmu.
  • Musicians who have gained experience with the BBS Local Talent and Variety Show and free public appearances (e.g. Playboy band at the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Rangoon University in 1970) turned professional.
  • English, Chinese and Indian songs were provided Burmese lyrics.
  • Sai Kham Leik was one of the few who created hit songs with original melody and lyrics. Sai Htee Saing was his primary choice for singing his songs.

Studios and Shops

Recording Studios sprang up.
They include

  • Sabai Oo
  • Lynn
  • May
  • Kumudra

Many shops sold mass-produced cassette tapes. Most played for 60 minutes. Tapes for 90 and 120 minutes often got stuck in the players.

Several shops allow a la carte. One can select songs and have them recorded in a tape.


So Ka Yay Tee

Ah Nu Pyinnya Ah Thin

  • “So Ka Yay Tee” is synonymous with “Ah Nu Pyinnya Ah Thin”.
  • Rangoon University has a “Ah Nu Pyinnya Ah Thin”.
    Saya Dr. Maung Maung Kha and Saya U Ba Kyi are Patrons.
    Saya Kha would play the violin and accompany U Ba Kyi singing “Only Two” (Hna Yauk Hte Nay Chin De).
  • Under the then New Education System, Institutes (such as IM, RIT, Eco, Edu) were established.
    Most of them have “Ah Nu Pyinnya Ah Thin”.


  • RIT Ah Nu Pyinnya Ah Thin held musical evening extravaganza (“Geeta See Sar”).
    RIT Ah Nu Pyinnya Ah Thin had a powerful presence at the 1970 RU Golden Jubilee Celebrations.
    It featured Swel Daw Yeik Ah Nyeint and Htee Yein.
  • Saya U Moe Aung (Tekkatho Moe War), Saya U Saw Tun (Saw Lu), Saya U Kyaw Sein (M65), Saya U Taing Oke (ChE69), and Saya U Khin Maung Tint (C69) are some of the driving forces for the outstanding performances by the Zat Sayas, Minthas, Minthamees, Lushwindaws, and the talented cast members.

Soul Mates

The Pon Chan Chan also helped find soul mates.

  • Don Min U Yu Swan and Sayama Emma Tin Tin Myint
  • U Tin Tun and Daw Mar Mar Yee
  • Saya U Khin Maung Tint and Sayama Daw Khin Sandar Tun

Categories: J K L

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