Myanmar Musical Instruments

There basically are 5 types of Myanmar traditional musical instruments:

1. air-based
• oboe
• flute

2. leather-based
• Drums: Great Drum, Short Drum, Circular Series of Drums
• Pot Drum (Ooh Si)

3. metal-based
• Brass Xylophone (Kyay Patalar)
• Gongs

4. string-based
• Myanmar Harp (Saung or Saung Gouk) 
• Harp (Don Min)

5. clappers and others
• Bamboo clappers
• Bamboo Xylophone (Warr Patalar)

Myanmar Harp

A “harp” is called Saung in Myanmar. There basically was 2 types: Byat Saung and Saung Gauk (bent harp). There almost is nobody who can play byat saungs these days. Today saung generally refers to the bent harp illustrated above.

In 10th century AD, musicians used only 5 strings in Myanmar harp, which later increased to 7 strings in 18th century. During King Bodaw Pharar the art of playing harp was much promoted by the king and was improved to using up to 13 strings.

Composition of a Myanmar Harp 

Can you imagine how it is made of? The composition of Myanmar harps is very interesting.

  • he body is made of padauk, the famous Myanmar mahogany.

  • The flat bar is made of cutch wood.

  • It is covered with the leather of a female deer.

  • And the strings are made of silk!

Other Musical Instruments



Crescent Saing : a series of brass /copper gongs, framed in crescent shape.



Myanmar Xylophone (Pattalar): The bars are usually made of bamboo or copper.



Shan Osi (Shan Long Drum)

Stone Drum: This actually is not a musical instrument. We just present it to you for its peculiarity. Isn’t it so strange to find a drum made of stone ?

You can ring it. It is somewhat a flat piece of rock, usually hanged around pagodas or monasteries. The purpose of using these is just like using bells, so that people can ring it by hitting with a stick.