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n. A traditional musical instrument of Laos, being a type of bamboo mouth organ.


The khene (; also spelled "khaen", "kaen" and "khen"; Lao: ແຄນ; , , ; Vietnamese: khèn; ) is a mouth organ of Lao origin whose pipes, which are usually made of bamboo, are connected with a small, hollowed-out hardwood reservoir into which air is blown, creating a sound similar to that of the violin. Today associated with the Lao people of Laos and Isan, other similar instruments date back to the Bronze Age. In Cambodia, it is used among the ethnic Lao population of the province of Stung Treng and is used in lakhon ken, a Cambodian dance drama genre that features the khene as the premiere instrument.

The most interesting characteristic of the khene is its free reed, which is made of brass or silver. It is related to Western free-reed instruments such as the harmonium, concertina, accordion, harmonica, and bandoneon, which were developed beginning in the 18th century from the Chinese sheng, a related instrument, a specimen of which had been carried to St. Petersburg, Russia.

The khene uses a pentatonic scale in one of two modes (thang sun and thang yao), each mode having three possible keys. The khaen has five different lai, or modes: Lai Yai (A C D E G), Lai Noi (D F G A C), Lai Soutsanaen (G A C D E), Lai Po Sai (C D F G A), and Lai Soi (D E G A B). Lai Po Sai is considered to be the oldest of the Lai Khaen and Lai Soutsanaen the "Father of the Lai Khaen." Khaen can be played as a solo instrument (Dio Khaen), as part of an ensemble (Ponglang), or as an accompaniment to a Lao or Isan Folk Opera Singer mor lam.

Annea Lockwood composed music for this instrument.

Usage examples of "khene".

More specifically, it was Khene Sen, who would make himself KheKhene over all the Clans.

I wasn't afraid of death at the hands of Khene Sen—but I fear those wizards, I fear that strong old woman and her lightning.

But that's why he's down here with the Khene, instead of up there at the Fortress, learning to be Master.

He passed the skin back to the Khene, who squirted some down his own throat.

As Teo had predicted, the Khene was beginning to fathom the mysteries of the written word, and had graduated to the level of the beginning science texts the novices read.

It was my father who tried to keep this from happening, with words of warning and water-pledges with as many Khenes as would give them.

While the Khene of Vredai was pledged friend to all the other Khenes, the Suno plans came to nothing.

By the time all were satisfied, Khene Sen and the Talchai were ready, backed by the Suno, who had told him that to be KheKhene he must destroy the voice of rebellion—the voice of Vredai.

But Khene Sen declared such a blood-feud on some trivial cause, and the other Khenes either upheld him or said nothing out of fear.

I would very much like to be Khene of many people, of much land—but not at the cost of making war, and not out of conquest.

I wasn't afraid of death at the hands of Khene Sen—but I fear those wizards, I fear that strong old woman and her lightning.

His cousin, the great Khene of the Vredai, dozed beside Yuchai's bed, propped up by his saddle, and within touching distance.

She smiled at the young Khene, who was showing signs of the odd little light in his eyes that the best of the novices got when they discovered that they were going to be learning, and not just playing servant to their mentors.

If you will excuse us, Khene, I think Shaman Northwind and I indeed have a very great deal to discuss.

The Khene raised his head and looked straight into Teo's eyes, and Teo could not help but see the pain there, and the longing.