Scene4 Magazine — International Magazine of Arts and Media

by Janine Yasovant

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april 2007

Scene4 Magazine: Pong Lang Sa Orn
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

The different regions of Thailand vary in geography, language, traditions and culture. Every part of Thailand has its own dialects.

Isaan is Northeast region of Thailand; The neighboring countries are Laos and Cambodia. The language and music are different, focused on the rice field, with instruments that come from the perception of the sound of nature, like many countries in Asia.  

They hear the bells from the oxen, when they work in the fields, the original sound from wooden bells or bronze bells around the buffalos neck, Villagers use this an instrument for local music

Pong Lang  is an Isaan musical instrument which is made from various woods and some times covered with bronze. Bamboo is the popular wood. The local instrument looks like a "Ranat" (xylophone)  A player can hold Pong Lang in the hand or hang it with the pole or on the wall. Pong Lang can be played solo or with other musical instruments. It is often played in villages or during the festivals. People can learn Pong Lang from the instructor and create a band of their own. And it has been used in the music of many Thai TV drama series such as Kaen Lam Kong, Pan din Mae. Pong Lang and Kaen, a woodwind instrument, is also a symbol of Isaan region of Thailand. The sound of Pong Lang can be tuned with Kaen if it performs Isaan traditional music. But if it is played with western music, the musician can tune it with electronic keyboard.

Isaan is a fascinating region for stage performances because the Isaan dialect is clearer and echoes other Thai dialects. Isaan people can speak Central Thai clearly and their accent is unique. We can say that Isaan is the poor region of Thailand , people move to work in the big city, when they suffer from drought, again and again

Pong Lang Sa Orn is an Isaan band from the Kalasin province  What happens when traditional folk tunes with a modern twist combine with comedy in the renaissance of an ancient art?  Two years ago Thai youngsters like Pong Lang Sa Orn went beyond modern rock or candy pop. The huge band wows crowds with their take on traditional folk music. Now based in Bangkok, they have made numerous appearances on TV shows and outdoor performances especially in the many universities in Thailand because most of them are students in the universities. There are more than 20 people in the band, dressed in Thai silk colourfully decorated costumes – the men in traditional plaid sarongs from Thai  silk rolled to the knees and white T-shirts. They delight audiences with a mix of Thai and foreign hits played on old-fashioned northeastern instruments. The dancers perform energetically and with enthusiasm as they sing while dancing.

Sompong Kunaprathom, the founder of the band, the lead performer in every show along with two women, Lala and Lulu, who both speak like the Thai hill tribes, a central-Thai mix with English words that makes audiences double over with laughter.  

Scene4 Magazine: Pong Lang Sa Orn

We could say directly that this is a bit disgusting if we see their performance for the first time as they sing the foreign songs incorrectly in order to make people laugh only. As a matter of fact, Sompong says that they wanted Thai people to look back at themselves again and asked themselves why Pong Lang Sa Orn brought the art of Pong Lang to play with foreign songs and why it can make people laugh. Their popularity produced VCD, DVD and mobile video clips that people like to watch.

Now under contract, the band will come up with five albums, the first of which will be released two months after its concert. It will feature a variety of Isaan music, covering look thung (upcountry) and songs-for-life tunes, pop, dance and rap, accompanied by the folk instruments. First, though, the band will launch their live double VCD.

It is amazing to watch the new trend that may become the new culture of Thai people..The sound has enjoyed a renaissance and is no longer limited to Isaan. The success of Pong Lang Sa Orn has inspired many new pong-lang bands in schools all over the country

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คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2007 Janine Yasovant
©2007 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine — Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer in Chiangmai, Thailand.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


Scene4 Magazine-International Magazine of Arts and Media

april 2007

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