Small Path Music - Info Kit
Synopsis - Small Path Music
In the hills and plateaus of Southeast Asia Laurent Jeanneau has found music which speaks to him like no other. Travelling to these hard-to-reach places, amongst people for whom the thread of tradition has not been broken, in search of new discoveries became his passion. A passion which has become his work and his life.
Small Path Music takes us travelling in the field with Laurent, exploring the lesser-travelled mountains of Northern Laos and into the borderlands of Yunnan, China. With his fiercely independent spirit as his compass we follow the hints and information garnered from locals along the way. Experiencing the practicalities of his work as we accompany him on his quest to record "old-style" traditional music and songs.
From shamanic rituals to love songs, historical epics to lamentations, his microphones become our ears - and through the window of his work we glimpse the artists he records, their lives, and the world they live in. Recorded in their natural setting we witness these performances as part of the living, breathing cultural life of the communities he visits.
Laurent recounts experiences of a decade recording in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China and we gauge his perspective on the musical traditions of this area. We see how he relates to them and how his work has led his life in new directions. Through his work he met his wife, Tanding and together they established a recording label (Kink Gong) to release their field recordings.
In an area with such ethnic and cultural diversity there is still plenty of recording work to be done. However with the increasing interaction of these regions beyond the social horizons of old, Small Path Music frames the changing situation in which Laurent finds these arts today. And the urgency of this work becomes apparent.
Director's Statement - David A. Harris
In 2009 I moved to Yunnan Province in the south of China. (Having lived in Beijing for nine years I was ready for some fresh air and greenery.) I had visited Yunnan before and caught glimpses of the range cultural life which exists in this geographically diverse region. I was keen to experience more.
While looking for a place to stay I met Laurent Jeanneau, a Frenchman living in Caicun, a little village on the edge of Erhai lake, Dali prefecture. I followed a dirt path by a creek, then skirted some cornfields to his front door. He was looking to rent the lower level of his house so this worked out well.
I moved in and gradually I came to learn the nature of Laurent's work hearing the sounds emanating from his studio most afternoons and through music recordings he played me. My curiosity was piqued.
What struck me most was the single-minded nature of his mission; to record as much of the surviving music of the ethnic regions as he can. I found his fierce independence inspiring and I also believed in the value of this work. And so I embarked on documenting it.
Laurent's wealth of experience in the field was also a huge resource for me as I came to learn more about the cultural life of the region. Documenting his work also provided a new means for me to experience it. When an opportunity arose to accompany him on field trips to the borderlands of Yunnan and into the lesser travelled reaches of Laos, I jumped at it.
The recordings made on these trips are featured in Small Path Music. I was by turns surprised, awed, enamoured and fascinated by what we found… at times being taken to a place very far away from anything I would call familiar.
While filming Small Path Music I came into contact with traditions which fulfilled a valuable function in their societies. Songs to celebrate, songs to lament, to console, to flirt, to impart history, to talk to each other and talk to nature. This contact has enriched my view of the world we live in.
I am drawn to the situations of cultures, once relatively isolated, now increasingly in touch with a much wider world. So much is being left behind to make room for the new. There are so many new opportunities also. What is necessary? And what are the possibilities?
Directors Biography – David Harris
Since leaving New Zealand, his homeland, in 1999 David has been based in China.
Firstly finding work in hospitality it was in 2004 that he made the choice to devote himself to film, T.V. and documentary. That year set about producing his first documentary, A Tour of the Public Kingdom (with chinese post-punk band P.K.14).
Since then he has worked in video and film on many different scales and in many capacities; crewing on feature films, working camera for news features, producing documentaries and editing nationally broadcast T.V. shows.
Music has been a constant theme in David's independently produced works including video's for Beijing bands P.K.14 (Tamen, Behind all Ruptures) and Carsick Cars (Mogu).
In 2011 David founded Small Path Productions, a banner under which he continues the work he started with Small Path Music, using modern media technologies to propagate the traditional folk art-forms he has begun to explore.
In 2012 David presented Five Songs - a triptych video installation featuring recordings of ethnic music of Laos and SW China at the Wellington City Gallery (NZ)
In 2015 year he directed the filmfor the performance piece Sever 《斩断》which premiered theShanghai International Festival of the Arts and went on to play The Asia Society (N.Y.).
David currently lives and works in Shanghai, China.
Featuring Laurent Jeanneau and Kink Gong recordings
Laurent grew up in Paris, France and from his early teenage years his lone searches through the record archives of his local libraries indicated his singular taste and passion for musics far from “mainstream”. Once he began to travel independently it was only a matter of time before his passion for music found him recording the music and sounds of the places he visited.
Kink Gong recordings was co-founded by Laurent Jeanneau in 2007 on which to release his substantial catalogue of field recordings and electronic compositions. The bulk of recordings are from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China. His recordings of the gong playing traditions of Ratanakiri, Cambodia are some of the only musical recordings of that area that exist. Laurent lives in Dali, Yunnan and continues his work; recording the music of ethnic minorities of the nearby regions. A selection of Kink Gong recordings are featured in Small Path Music.
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Producer, Director, Photography, Sound, Post-production: David Harris
Music recordist : Laurent Jeanneau.
Featuring performances by
Yangxiaosi (f) : Wedding song – Wa ethnicity, Onding, Yunnan, China.
Thene (f) : Tot flute - drinking tune – Khmu ethnicity, Moung Khau, Laos.
Sisamong (f) : Khmu ethnicity, Oudomxai, Laos.
Khaene (m) : Khene reed pipe inst. - Khmu ethnicity, Moung Khua, Laos.
Boon Long (m) : Peun Meug (trem style) – Khmu , Moung Khua, Laos.
Li Kuan (m) & Li Feng Xin (f): Responsive singing – Laluo ethnicity, Wuqicun, Yunnan, China.
Guo Wen Biao (m) & Mei Hua (f) – Love Song – Laluo ethnicity, Wuqicun, Yunnan, China.
Ai Feng (f) : Improvised Dai diao – Dai ethnicity, Gengma, Yunnan, China.
With Appearances and thanks to
Wuqicun Laluo community (permission to film deity celebration) – Yunnan, China
Somxai Village community (permission to film shamanic ritual) – Outai, Phongsali, Laos.
Say Deuan – Monotham guesthouse – fixer for musicians, translator – Moung Khua, Laos
Khamman Xavavong – translator – Moung Khua, Laos.
Le family – (permission to record drinking songs) – Na Tai Village, Boun tai, Laos.
Laurent's family - Shi Tanding & Jisang
Bai ethnicity funeral mantra singers – Caicun, Dali, Yunnan, China.
Culture show performers. - Shuangjiang, Yunnan, China.
Also Featuring Additional Kink Gong recordings
- brao five gong orchestra - kavet ethnic group (2005)
- asong - akha in laos (2008)
- dozhui aseu - hani in china (2010)
Featuring still photographs courtesy of Laurent Jeanneau:
- Ratanakiri, Mondolkiri (Cambodia) - previously recorded artists (wearing headphones)
Title : Small Path Music
Genre : documentary
Runtime : 54 min.
Language : English (with subtitles)
Subtitles : Chinese, French
Country of Production: China, Laos,
New Zealand (post-production).
Producer : David A. Harris
Copyright : David A. Harris 2013
Production Completed : April 2013
Format : Standard definition
Aspect : 16:9 Sound : Stereo
Available Screening Formats : .mov, DVD all regions (PAL, NTSC)
Contact person : David Harris
Email : email@example.com
Tel : New Zealand : (+64) 221605370
China : (+86) 15800657464