”Sbek thom” is a type of shadow play featuring shadow puppet props made from whole leather. “sbek thom” literally means “large skins”.
”Specktom” is a traditional Khmer shadow play based on the ancient Indian epic “Ramayana”. It was popular during the Chenla Angkor Dynasty (802-1431 AD). At that time, the “Spectome” Khmer shadow play was regarded as a sacred performing art, along with the Royal Ballet and Mask Dance. The performer of the Khmer shadow play “Spectome”, as revered as the monks. At the end of the Chenla Angkor Dynasty, the “Spectome” Khmer shadow play gradually declined.
By the 1970s and 1990s, due to the civil war and the rule of the Khmer Rouge, “Specktom” was rarely performed. It was not until the late 1990s that the Khmer shadow play “Specktom” resumed performances in Siem Reap, 8 kilometers from Angkor Wat.
The puppets of the “Spectome” Khmer shadow play are about two meters high, and the puppets of each character are made of a whole piece of perforated leather. The hide is dyed with Kandaol (tree name) bark solution. Artisans paint the characters on the sun-dried cowhide, then cut it out, paint it, and tie it to two bamboo sticks for dancers to manipulate. According to tradition, performances are held outdoors at night in the valley fields or next to pagodas. In addition to the two-person rap during the performance, there is also a band accompaniment. Traditional musical instruments are gongs, drums, xylophone and flute. The Khmer translation of the Ramayana usually lasts for several nights, requiring as many as 160 puppets per performance.
From April to May 2007, Cambodia’s “Specktom” Khmer shadow play was exhibited for the first time in the Augsburg Puppet Show Museum in Germany. In the same year, “Spectome” Khmer shadow play also participated in the performance of Hangzhou International Shadow Play Week at China International Animation Festival.
The birth of pop music coincided with the birth of the plastic record industry in 1948. Before that, records were made of crisp shellac and played on a phonograph at 78 revolutions per minute (rpm). Plastic records are more durable, sound clearer, sound more pure, and cost less to produce. The 7-inch (18 cm) plastic record was produced in 1949, which ran at 45 revolutions per minute and was soon chosen as the go-to format for popular songs. What’s more, this 7-inch plastic record fits just right on a jukebox. Installed in clubs, cafes and dance halls, the jukebox is the key to the fusion of pop music and emerging youth culture.
But that’s not the only answer to why most pop music lasts three to three and a half minutes. A 7-inch record can hold twice as long a song, such as 7.05 minutes for The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”
3 and a half minutes may just be a measure of the listener’s normal attention span. Many well-known opera arias tend not to be long, the Habanera in Bizet’s Carmen (1875) usually lasts about three and a half minutes, as do some operettas, church carols and Christmas songs. Now all parties are calling for songs that tend to be three and a half minutes long. For example, commercial radio stations require that popular music should be simple, because if the listener is bored, he will tune the channel, and short songs can ensure enough commercial breaks.
Of course, with the advent of discs and download software, songs can be of any length. But the music in the music charts is still about 3 and a half minutes long.