This Blog is a collection of my recordings from travelling around Asia

This Blog is a collection of my recordings and collectings from travelling around Asia...
expect lots of obscure instruments, strange sounds, electric and acoustic instruments, obscure records and tapes, and any other sounds i find on the road.
Please be Patient, as the site is very content heavy, the Soundcloud streams are a bit slow to load...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Morlam VCD

A Brief Introduction to Molam (หมอลำ)

Molam (หมอลำ, Mor lam, Morlum) Music is a traditional form from Southern Laos and the Isan Region of Thailand. Molam literally translates to "expert song," or "expert singer," In southern Laos the music is known as "Aslam" (ລຳ) whereas "Mor lam" refers to the preformer or singer.

After thousands of years in development, Molam Music has many different iterations, ranging from the extremely traditional (acoustic instruments, traditional costume, etc.) to the extremely Modern, largely Thai iterations which encorporate Trap Kits (electronic or standard), electric keyboards, electric guitars, electric bass, and electric versions of many of the key traditional instruments.

The Main instruments of Molam are the Reed Organ, ("Kaen" or "แคน") The Phin (พิณ), a three string hollow body guitar type instrument played with a pick, sometimes outfitted with an electric guitar pickup, and ran at high volume (highly distorted) through an amplifier, or played as an acoustic instrument, as in the recording of Mr. Sewarak below. The Vot (โหวด), a cicular pan pipe made of bamboo with a sphere of pitch that sits on the lips allowing quick chord progressions to be executed. Pong Lang (โปงลาง), which is a simplified xylophone, without sounding tubes, usually strung between two points, with one end higher then the other, played with two curved wooden mallets. The Sing (ฉิ่ง) and Sap (ฉาบ) which are hand cymbals used to maintain tempo, in more modern Molam, featuring a drum kit these instruments are frequently replaced by the cowbell.

Most of the Molam presented here is "Morlam Sing," which is the modern Isan version of Molam, combining traditional Lam segments with bits of Luk Thung, with electronic instruments and vibrant stage shows. "Morlam Sing," is a reference to Thai biker culture "by sing" translates as "to go racing about on motorbikes."

Molam in Isan Mainly serves a festival function, at festivals or parades (of which there are many), Brightly painted trucks loaded with massive soundsystems, compete for aural and visual dominance, sometimes these soundsystems play recorded music or serve as a stage from which a Molam Band will preform, often with the Phin players walking in front of the slow moving truck.

The First Example:

Part 2
Part 1
A great Little two Part VCD from ITC (need a translation for band name). The first few minutes of each part are available as a Divx stream and the full videos can be downloaded as .avi from Megaupload by clicking the cover photo.

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Traveling, seeing, being, learning, growing. doing my little bit against homogeneous mass culture.