Arrival: Thailand

Map of Thailand

Thailand, located in South East Asia, has been a popular tourist destination for decades because of its beaches, but the real value is in its musical and artistic culture.

  • Bangkok is the music and art capital of Thailand and is a busy, sprawling city.
  • Bangkok draws in tourists with its beautiful Buddhist temples, palaces, and floating markets – small boats lined along channels selling food and goods.
  • Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
  • The country has established a Department of Fine Arts to oversee its thriving music and art community.

Music of Thailand: Classical Piphat (bee-paht)


Khong - Metallic Cymbals

Ranatek - Xylophone

Taphon Drum

  • When you first listen to Piphat music, it can be difficult to separate out all of the sounds coming at you at once, but keep listening!
  • There are three clear types of sounds, patterns of beats from the taphon, high clacks from the khong, and melodic notes from the ranaket.
  • Piphat is played as an ensemble, which means all together. Usually this means three melodic instruments (xylophones and cymbals) and two rhythmic instruments (drums).
  • Just as other types of music we have explored, Thai musicians use different scales than we do in the West, which makes some notes sound weird to our ears. Give it a chance, you’ll get used to it!

You should recognize the Ranaket, also called the Xylophone, it has become very popular in Western music too!

Source: World Music: A Global Journey, Miller and Shahriari