Last update: December 2, 2023
Chhing ឈិង cymbals have their origins in India. They are omnipresent in Angkorian iconography, in the string orchestras of the Bayon period or simply to symbolize the music when the artists minimalized the instruments. Their use has never stopped. Today, they are present, at least, in the pin peat and mahori sets.
They are made of bronze by hammering, formerly by casting. Apart from this detail, their technology has changed little since Angkorian times.
Two sounds can be produced with cymbals: one by quickly striking the edges against each other, which produces a clear sound called cheung; the second, called chop, is produced by damping the two elements. Several nuances can be created by muffling the sound more or less with the hands.
On a symbolic level, the two elements represent the sun and the moon. In the orchestra, they follow the tempo like these two stars.
This photograph by Émile Gsell (c. 1871) is the oldest to show cymbals. According to Jean Moura, “Le royaume du Cambodge” - 1883”, they were called chhung chhap, in reference to the two sounds they produce. On the ground, to the right of the musician, a romonea frame drum demonstrating that she is part of the mahori ensemble of the royal court.