Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Young musicians sing songs of peace

Peace Music Group Myanmar members Lin Htet (left) and Daniel Saw. Boothee/ The Myanmar TimesPeace Music Group Myanmar members Lin Htet (left) and Daniel Saw. Boothee/ The Myanmar Times

The Peace Music Group Myanmar was founded only four months ago, but the three members already have big plans to use their songs to help bring an end to conflict throughout their country.

The band — consisting of Lin Htet, Daniel Saw and Zin Zin — was formed in June and first performed live at Myanmar National Theatre in Yangon on September 21, which was also International Peace Day.

Twenty-year-old Lin Htet, the leader of the band, told The Myanmar Times that when he was 15 years old he started writing songs exploring his feelings about the victims of war, especially starving children and unsafe living conditions.

He later made friends with others who were interested in writing songs about peace, and they decided to form a music group.

“Our group’s aim is to show that young people can also be involved in making peace, and that we really hope for peaceful solutions to conflict. We don’t know how to express our feelings except through music — we know music has great power, and we’ll use it to ask for peace,” Lin Htet said.

Another band member, 18-year-old Daniel Saw, said his father works for UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) so he is accustomed to seeing photographs of children who are starving or dead because of war.

“When young people like us meet at the tea shop or anywhere else, we mostly talk about peace. We want peace for ourselves and everyone else, not just for the leaders of the country, and we want everyone to know our feelings,” Daniel Saw said, adding that most of the participants in International Peace Day were young.

So far Peace Music Group Myanmar has written 10 original songs, which are performed on a mix of traditional and Western instruments, including traditional orchestral instruments, Myanmar harp, violin and percussion.

Their songs generally fit into the reggae and slow rock genres.

“Musicians and composers need to know about their traditional music,” Lin Htet said. “Being Myanmar, I feel that our traditional music is more inspirational than current pop music, and we should respect our traditions and our instruments. That’s why we use Myanmar orchestral instruments and harps in our songs.”

Daniel Saw said that many of the songs were not written as a direct response to current events in Myanmar, but rather had been composed “years ago” before everyone started organising events calling for peace in Kachin and Rakhine states.

“The raw and basic objects of my songs were pulled from the wars I saw on television news. When I saw children crying in war-torn areas, I couldn’t understand it when people said they wanted to fight for their country. I could see that wars are not good for anyone, and I wrote about those feelings,” he said.

He said the band had a good response from the audience during the performance on International Peace Day, and he felt that the people in crowd understood what the music was trying to express.

Daniel Saw said the band plans to release a CD of their first live performance, and they will donate all profits to victims of the conflicts in Kachin and Rakhine states.

The band also plans to perform in Mandalay before the end of the year, and would like to embark on a nationwide tour in the future, he said.