Southeast Asia is a culturally heterogeneous and musically diverse region. There is thus a need to keep in mind what is conceptualised as ‘music’ may differ from the Western-centric definition and even differ among the different countries and areas in the region, where indigenous musical traditions are known to have been transmitted through oral traditions.
Almost all cultures of Southeast Asia have rich traditions of vocal music, as many involve the playing of musical instruments as well. Rich and varied group singing traditions have also existed well before Western contact and the colonial period in history.
Choral music in Southeast Asia is a compound art that often interweaves instrumental music, theatre and dance together. These forms of expressions are allied to religious ceremonies or royal court rituals, and often require an awareness of the meaning and context of the performance itself.