Kyaw Kyaw Naing

Kyaw Kyaw Naing is a master of the pat waing or saing waing, a traditional Burmese drum-circle instrument. He began learning traditional Burmese repertoire on the pat waing at the age of six from his illustrious father U Sein Chit Tee.

Naing has performed on “The Bang on a Can Marathon Music” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City and Lincoln Center with the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Naing says that, like jazz musicians, Burmese players “look at one another and listen to the tune and play accordingly… even though they might play the same piece of music, the next time they play it differently.” In 2003 at the Asia Society in NY, Naing, together with 12 musicians and 7 dancers, performed Burmese traditional music and dance for the first time in almost 30 years.

The last Burmese orchestra to play in the United States was in 1975 and was led by Naing’s father, U Sein Chit Tee. Organized by the Asia Society, the group played to sold out houses coast to coast from Carnegie Hall to Honolulu and was featured on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. Naing comes from this illustrious musical and performing family. He adds a wonderful melodic lyricism to an already lyric art. He has not only mastered the Pat Waing (Drum Circle) but is a brilliant Burmese style pianist (the Burmese retune the piano to almost even 12 notes as opposed to the half steps). His compositions speak to the bridge between east and west. His recordings are magnificent and he has updated many classics in a new lively style.

The music has deep sacred roots and includes traditional invocations to the 37 Nats (spirits) of Burma as well as the Ramayana epic. The history of Burmese music and dance is tied to both the Khmer courts of Cambodia and Royal Thai courts. With each conquering army, artisans were brought home as the spoils of war. Musicians and dancers were a part of this captured treasure. Over time Burmese music developed its own unique aesthetic that comes from deep with the Burmese spirit.