In Cambodia there exist an eleborated Buddhist chanting using many melisma and a complex melody. They are sad songs about coping with problems in life. Many can be found in the COMSAR in the Collection Bader.

Below is a pitch analysis of a phrase of the song Sara Phanh. It shows elaborated structures of vibrate and pitch glides. At the left the 7-tone equidistand tuning is shown often found in Thailand or Cambodia. On the left is our Western just intonation, based on simple ratios, like 3:2 for the fifth or 4:3 for the fourth.

When making a statistics about all pitches sung over this song it is hard to say which tuning system has been used by the singer:

Still a 7-tone equidistand temperament exist in Cambodia, as can be found with the Thake, a stringed instrument. Here the frets are perfectly placed in an equidistant way, having 7 tones per octave:

But things get more complex when looking at the Roneak deik, a metallophone from Cambodia:

There a medium tuning system exists in between the Cambodian and the Western system. Additionally, the tuning follows a certain pattern of smaller and larger intervals:


Bader, R.: Buddhism, Animism, and Entertainment in Cambodian Melismatic Chanting smot. A. Schneider  & A. von Ruschkowski (eds.): Hamburg Yearbook of Musicology 28, 283-305, 2011.

Bader, R.: Temperament in Tuning Systems of Southeast Asia and Ancient India. In: R. Bader (ed.): Computational Phonogram Archiving, Springer Series ‘Current Research in Systematic Musicology’, Vol. 5, 75-108, 2019.