For blind musicians, Khmer culture sings

At 3:00 in the afternoon, the intense heat in the quiet city of Kampot, in southern Cambodia, makes the streets practically deserted. Along one of the avenues, music from a classroom escapes into a garden. Inside, four students – all of whom are blind – practice with deep concentration.

Chourn Reach sets the melody with his tro, a two-stringed, bowed instrument; Saron occupies a large part of the music room with a takhe, a kind of three-stringed floor zither in the shape of a crocodile; Iem Rokhthai plays a kind of flute called khloy; and Kan Prak is in charge of percussion with the skor, made up of two small drums.

“This is the time of the day I enjoy the most,” Saron says, sitting in front of his instrument. The others nod in agreement.

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