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Yike (Khmer: យីកេ, pronounced [ˈjiːkeː]) is a prominent form Cambodian musical theater, along with Bassac theater and Niyeai.[1] "Lakhon Yike" (Khmer:ល្ខោន យីកេ, literally Yike theater) incorporates singing and dancing and "an ensemble of both traditional and modern instruments."[1]

It's origin can be traced to Jikey, a popular form of entertainment in the Malay culture which spread to Cambodia, probably through Thailand's Likay. Yike is performed in nearly every province of Cambodia and by the Khmer Krom communities in southern Vietnam. The Khmer Krom have two terms for it, the yike as the rest of Khmer communities, and the yuke which is used to refer to the dance theatre also known as Lakhon Bassac. In Thailand, there is an analogous theatre called Likay (Thai: ลิเก) although it is vastly different in performance and with the music using a piphat ensemble instead of the rebana or the skor yike and tro ensemble as in the Cambodian version.


Performances of the yike are often commenced with a dance performance called robam yike hom rong which is used for invocation. For the bulk of the performance however, a dancing style similar to rom kbach is lightly incorporated.

The stories are often of various Jatakas or tales of the Buddha's life. Performances of the story of Tum Teav in the yike are also common. It is performed in a circle so viewers could see it from every angle. The performances gained popularity with Cambodian farmers, thus it have changed over time into a theatrical art form to promote the teachings of Buddhism and Brahmanism.

In the Yike drama, the skor mei (the largest of the yike drum family) starts and ends the music.[2][3] There may be from 2 to 13 drums.[2] The largest skor mei drum begins, all perform, and then the instruments fall away until only the skor mei is still playing.[2]

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  1. ^ a b Se, Sio (August 2002). "All The World's A Stage". Leisure Cambodia. Retrieved 25 October 2018. [Web content originally part of Leisure Camobodia (tabloid), Volume 2, Number 8, August 2002.]
  2. ^ a b c Khean, Yun; Dorivan, Keo; Lina, Y; Lenna, Mao. Traditional Musical Instruments of Cambodia (PDF). Kingdom of Cambodia: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. pp. 246–247.
  3. ^ Vanna, Ly (September 2002). "Cambodian Percussion". leisurecambodia.com. Retrieved 10 October 2018. There are 13 different skor yikei, from large to small. The biggest one is called skor mei- this is always the first drum to start. The theatre leader always beats skor mei (meaning "leading drum") to order, or to stop the activity of the performers.

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