Kyaw Kyaw Naing

Kyaw Kyaw Naing (born 1964) is a modern Burmese traditional musician who is trying to bring this music to the world stage. He is a master of the pat waing or saing waing, a traditional Burmese drum-circle instrument; the player sits in the middle of a horseshoe-shaped shell made of elaborately carved wood and decorated with gold leaf.

In 1999, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) invited Naing to give a performance. After visiting England, he came to Los Angeles along with musicians from other Asian and European countries. His intention was to stay for a short while and go home. But when he was at UCLA, he was amazed that Burmese music did not exist there. He saw musical instruments from many countries, but not a single Burmese musical instrument?not even a harp or a xylophone. He was inspired to introduce Burmese music to America and to help the Burmese community in the United States.

Many of the instruments and sets which have been shipped from Myanmar belong to Naing's family. He has slowly been building a career as a Burmese musician. Evan Ziporyn from Bang on a Can All-Stars invited him to a workshop at MIT. He has since performed with Bang on a Can and toured with a group from UCLA.

Naing said that, like jazz musicians, Burmese players "look at one another and listen to the tune and play accordingly... even though they might play the same piece of music, the next time they play it differently." When asked if it sounds anything like jazz, he laughed and said, "No, it's totally different."