Mysterious language and music

Here’s a recording sent in by Dave Murrary of Haji Maji, a blog about old 78 records from Asia.

Part of the recording with the spoken words:

The whole recording:

This comes from a record which has a picture of two Buddhist monks and the phrase “sixth Buddhist convention” on the label. According to a native Burmese speaker Dave asked, the language isn’t Burmese.

Do you have any idea what language is spoken at the beginning (it’s only a few words) and do you the recognise the style of music?

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This entry was posted in Language, Puzzles.

10 Responses to Mysterious language and music

  1. Eli says:

    Something tonal. I can tell that much.

    It may be Austroasiatic – Khmer, Vietnamese?

  2. Vijay John says:

    I doubt it’s Khmer or Vietnamese. The language doesn’t sound like either to me; neither does the musical style.

    Could it be Tibetan? The second syllable of that recording sounded like “la,” which I believe is the locative postposition (i.e. means ‘in’). And there’s something about that music that reminds me of traditional Mongolian and Tibetan music (I’ve only ever heard one sample of each, but still. It also reminds me of traditional Chinese music, to a lesser extent).

  3. stormboy says:

    Eli – Khmer isn’t tonal.

  4. BG says:

    It also reminds me of traditional Chinese music but not exactly, so Tibetan or Mongolian seem like good guesses.

  5. Eli says:

    Ah. Sorry.

  6. Eli says:

    Maybe Burmese?

  7. Dave says:

    Hi All, thanks for commenting on this record!
    I’ve been researching some leads and asking around. It’s not spoken in Burmese and the music is definitely not Burmese. Same for Nepalese.
    The writing is Burmese and refers to a large Buddhist gathering in Burma 1956.
    Some 2500 monks came from neighboring countries. Maybe the music was recorded there by one of these delegations?
    Sri Lanka is considered the seat of Theravada Buddhism and so was central to the Convention. Could it be Tamil, or some other language from Sri Lanka?
    It doesn’t sound like Sri Lankan music to me, more likely Tibetan.

    The language of the spoken intro doesn’t really guarantee the style of music I suppose, but they’re most likely introducing the musicians.

    anyway, thanks for the help, this is a great blog!

    Dave from haji maji

  8. Vijay John says:

    It’s definitely not Sinhalese or Tamil. Given that no one has objected to Tibetan, I’ll go with that. (Also, the language doesn’t sound like Mongolian, either).

  9. d.m.falk says:

    Well, since Burma isn’t a monolinguistic country, it could be one of the minority languages there. The music style reminds me of northern southeast Asian/southern/southeastern China, perhaps Lao or Hmong. (Hmong used to be common here in coastal northwestern California, before most Hmong moved to Minnesota, and this reminded me of traditional Hmong music.)

    d.m.f.

  10. Dave says:

    The language and music have now been identified as Tibetan. Thanks again for all your help.
    Dave from Haji Maji