Laón-Laón : 2nd Forum on Music Research Centers in Asia, which was held in November 24-26, 2009 in the Paññãsãstra University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, is a sequel to the first Laón-Laón Forum. The entire experience from the first forum brought about the realization that not only was preservation of musical cultures a common concern but that countries in Asia should forge greater cooperation and collaboration in archival preservation - a highly technical and specialized activity, as well as in other endeavors in the field of music research. It was in this regard that a second forum has been convened, in order to formalize ties between their institutions, define parameters of cooperation and to undertake collaborative projects.
Highlighting the entire forum were discussions on the projects that would sustain the partnership in Laón-Laón. All projects that had been submitted were later collapsed into four important activities, which were all related to each other: the assessment of holdings prior to digitization; the training and internship program; the thematic research and documentation; and the setting up of an Asian cultural resource center.
The assessment of the existing materials was earmarked to make use of the survey document that had been formulated for the European Training for Audio-Visual Presentation. The survey document which is quite extensive woud be simplified for the Laón-Laón dialogue partners, but comprehensive enough to know not only the holdings, but also the type of materials, as well as the machines that are available for replay and digitization and the manner by which digitization was being implemented.
The internship program, on the other hand, would enable institutions with adequate technological capability to train personnel from the other dialogue partners for a period of ten-days, on analogue-to-digital transfer as well as the preparation and setting-up of both technical and administrative metadata. While this particular project can be implemented anytime, the acquisition of the machines that will later be used in applying the knowledge gained in the workshop will take some time and more resources.
The collaborative research dwelled on the investigation of double-reed instruments in Southeast Asia as well as other parts of the world. Initially, five country institutions will be involved: Paññãsãstra University of Cambodia, Mahidol University of Thailand, the Archives of Traditional Music under the National Library of Laos, the Association of Vietnamese folklorists, and the National Museum of Ethnology (MINPAKU) in Japan. The double-reed instruments, used in rituals as well as other forms of celebration, seemed to have been neglected in ethnographic as well as historical research and a detailed survey of the topic is needed. The project aims to provide a detailed survey of the instrument in mainland SEA, and this topic will be based on the preliminary symposium in Phnom Penh. The activities will combine historical research, sources, visual representations, inscriptions, writings of travellers and missionaries. This study will hopefully trigger other collaborative researches in the future and will be able to cover such shared heritages as the piphat, the kulintang, the molam, etc.
The most challenging project is the setting-up of an Asian Cultural Resource Center which involves the contribution of data to a central databank from the different dialogue partners. The databank consists of information on specific property - instrument, ritual, songs - that are representative of cultures in Asia, in the form of pictures, videos, and written materials that will address the educational needs. The Center is meant to be a permanent repository of information on the cultures in Asia, an archive of data that will be useful to all kinds of users: scholars and non-academic public who are interested to know something about traditions and practices in Asia.