Sequences, short melodic phrase repetitions, begining on different but usually contiguous scale degrees, are used throughout Burmese music. Also by means of this technique, temporary modulations to different tonal centers are folded into the structure of compositions. In this example, from one of the Kyo songs which appear later in the Maha Gita, "Sanya Daung Kyun," each expression of the sequence is two rhythmic units, here given as measures. The Burmese listener might expect a third statement of the sequence at the next two measures, however, a new shorter, one measure sequence moving down by degrees begins here. Such expressions of sequences are common in Burmese music, in the formal structure of traditional compositions, as we see in this example, as well as in the course of improvisation.
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last updated 14 October 1995