Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Lao P.D.R.

Khab Sam Neua

Sam Neua Folk Song


Khab Sam Neua, Houaphanh province.

This genre is a form, in which male and female performers sing in repartee. The topic they sing about can vary from local legends, Buddhism to courtship.

Reasons for selection

Khab Sam Neua is a traditional folk song genre of Northern Laos which is becoming increasingly rare.

Area where performed

Sam Neua province, Northern Laos

Essential elements of the performing art


Detailed explanation

This genre is the most remote from mainstream Laos. It originates in extreme Northeastern Laos, Houaphanh province and across the border into Northwest Vietnam. Speaking a Tai language different from Lowland Lao, the Neua people who inhabit this area are the singers of Khab Sam Neua and are thus more like tribal Tai than Lowland Lao. The khaen used to accompany has no more than fourteen pipes. It follows the non-metrical vocal line closely without drones, but with multiple tones. Using the ngao scale restricted to the range of a seventh, the singer completes the first line of a couplet on the third and the second on the tonic. Each line has a descending contour and stanzas and with a distinctive cadence, a double alternation of tonic and the tone below.

Publication and textual documentation

not yet available

Audio documentation

not yet available

Visual documentation


Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

National School of Music and Dance

Data provider

Mr. Douangchampy Vouthisouk
National School of Music and Dance
Address: Vientiane, Lao P.D.R.