Music From Thailand: Field Recordings By Deben Bha
Field Musician; Field Musicians
This new release is both a valuable cultural document and a rare collectors’ item. It features historical, unrehearsed live field recordings of traditional music made in Thailand in 1973 by ethnomusicologist Deben Bhattacharya. As in most countries of Asia, Thai music consists of two distinct features: the folk songs and dances which belong to the village traditions, and the piphat orchestra with its complex structure, no doubt developed and played for the elite, both in villages and towns. The village music in the main is melodic, with songs and dances accompanied by woodwind and stringed instruments, as well as drums and metal percussion instruments for providing the rhythm. The piphat band, on the other hand, employs a rich collection of percussion instruments belonging to the metallophone and the xylophone families and played with drums, gongs, and cymbals. These are divided into two sections, one providing a melody and the other the rhythm. Sometimes the orchestra is led by a single woodwind instrument, the pi nai, which belongs to the oboe family, like the Indian shehnai. The music is played in a diatonic scale with seven equidistant notes but without any semitones between the steps of the octave. This album begins with the music of the piphat orchestra played for Ramakien, the epic which represents the political and the cultural history of Thailand since ancient times.