Last update: December 2, 2023
The term slek ស្លឹក (also transliterated sleuk) literally means "leaf". It is a natural reed from trees with large, stiff leaves such as ampour, pourch, krai, kravagn, chrey kram ... and many others. Slek leaves are used by herdsmen who, while tending their cattle, pick them to whistle melodies. The leaf must be fresh, wide and stiff enough to resist vibration. The player rolls it longitudinally, half on itself, so that it touches both lips at the same time. The upper lip controls the pitch of the sound. Although originally a solo instrument, some musicians like to use it in orchestral formations. In the photograph opposite, this musician plays in the mahori ensemble that performs daily at Banteay Srei temple.
The mahori ensemble is Siamese-influenced, but was most certainly created by the Khmers of Angkorian era. It is one of the few non-ritual ensembles dedicated to recreational use. It comprises a slek leaf, a roneat ek xylophone, two two-string fiddles tro sau and tro u, a krapeu (or takhe) three-string zither, a khim table zither, a khloy flute, a banjo, chhing cymbalettes and a skor daey drum. This sequence was filmed in 2010 at Banteay Srei temple.