[pinterest-pro type=”pinit” pin_url=”http://siam-longings.com/1music/mor-lam-and-luk-thung.htm” pin_image_url=”” pin_counter=”horizontal” pin_desc=”Some references about Mor lam and Luk thung music, and where to find it. “]
mor lam and luk thung
From a January 6 (2012) CNNGo article titled Mor Lam and Luk Thung: A guide to Bangkok’s Thai folk music scene:
What are Luk Thung and Mor Lam?
Luk Thung developed in the early 20th century in central Thailand in the provinces just north of Bangkok. Suphanburi province in particular became the Memphis of Luk Thung, producing multiple hitmakers in the 1960s including the “Thai Elvis” Suraphol Sombatcharoen, the most influential Thai country musician of that era.
(Click here to hear a traditional Luk Thung song by Suraphol Sombatcharoen.)
Drawing from both traditional Thai folk music and foreign influences, Luk Thung has been compared to Western country music. Its roots, the crooning and the contents of the songwriting make this an apt comparison, but in terms of sound modern Luk Thung is more similar to power pop ballads than anything else.
Not unlike U.S. country music, Luk Thung songs today — often backed by electronic instruments and electric guitars — are very different from what they were during the genre’s golden age in the 1960s. But they still retain enough of their traditional flavor to distinguish themselves from Westernized modern Thai pop.
More on CNNGo: Thailand’s blond-haired, blue-eyed Luk Thung crooner
Mor Lam‘s roots are older and originate in the northeast Thailand region known as Isaan, which has close ties to Laos. The music derives from a tradition of singers relating a tale of woe over a melody provided by the khene, a mouth organ made of bamboo pipes of different sizes, among other instruments.
While Luk Thung singers are crooners, the Mor Lam (expert singer) is a fast-paced storyteller, inflecting generic accounts of unrequited love with social commentary and bawdy humor. (Click here to hear an Isaan musician playing the khene in the fast-paced lam peun style of Mor Lam.)
In recent years there has been a great deal of cross-pollination between Mor Lam and Luk Thung. Both now share many of the same popular singers, and are played on the same radio stations. The fact that Luk Thung is more popular throughout the country means that many Mor Lam singers sing both to increase their appeal.
The lyrics for both forms of music deal with similar subject matter: the hardships of rural life, leaving behind the love of your life in the village to come work in the city and missing home cooking.
The songwriting isn’t particularly inspiring, but nevertheless it resonates strongly with Bangkok’s Isaan community. And obviously, unless you speak Thai it won’t be a factor in your night.
A website devoted to the two styles of music is Morlam Luktung — it has many album reviews. A similar website is Lukthung & Morlam. However, this latter blog has not had an entry for over a year — not since the owner (Chris Davies) lamented in his last post (May 23, 2011) that YouTube had been busy removing many videos of this type from its database. This, of course, leaves website owners who may have embedded the videos — owners such as myself included — with nothing but a dark space where there had once been a music video. Obviously, if a blogger’s post had been all about a specific video, then to have the actual video removed by YouTube results in a near total waste of effort by the blogger. No one would know what the blogger had been talking about, unless the visitor was already familiar with the performance.
YouTube and other video hosts still have massive amounts of Morlam and Lukthung videos, fortunately; so anyone can watch and hear the various performances for free. And there are online sources for people wishing to purchase CDs — eThaiCD.com, for example. And if the buyer wants something more obscure and is willing to pay somewhat dearly, then Far Side Music or Sublime Frequencies may have what he or she is after.
Okay, as a June 28 (2012) edit to this post, here are a few related references you may find of interest:
March 12, 1971, in Kaset Wisai District, Roi Et Province, Thailand) is a Thai mor lam, luk thung and pop music singer. She is one of the most popular and prolific of the artists in the mor lam (Thai country) and luk thung (Thai …
Publish Date: 04/17/2012 19:50
I first heard Thai luk thung and mor lam music just a few years ago on releases by the stellar record labels Subliminal Sounds, Sublime Frequencies and ZudRangMa. I soaked it up and inquired deeper. Luk thung (translation: …
Publish Date: 04/28/2011 14:06
There is some playing fast and loose with genres; jazz makes no appreciable appearance, and more Thai styles than just the famous Mor Lam and Luk Thung are represented. But the selections are indeed fringy and fun for …
Publish Date: 06/22/2011 0:00
collection of great music made by the people of thailand; ลูกทุ่ง (luk thung), ลูกกรุง (luk krung), หมอลำ (molam), regional folk styles & more. most of these are taken from tapes that i found either in thailand or at home, in america.
Publish Date: 06/10/2012 22:02
Cat, I love luk thung and mor lam so this was a really interesting post for me. I hadn’t heard Jonas and Christy before although people have mentioned them to me. I shall certainly look out for them now. There does seem to be …
Publish Date: 12/08/2009 17:00
For those who know Luk Thung well, I apologize for any explanatory reductions in talking about Luk Thung and Mor Lam. There’s plenty more to say about the huge differences between these styles, but for the sake of clarity …
Publish Date: 02/08/2011 7:45
mor lam and luk thung
Orrawee Sutjanon – Toong rak saung row
Uploaded by thailandblick on Feb 9, 2009
Very special: “Luk Thung / Mor Lam” – the folk-music from Isaan.
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