Chudharatanabhorn Building : Art of Music


Chudharatanabhorn Building : Art of Music

3 Silapa Rattanakosin Resource Center


          “...All kinds of music are essential arts. Most people appreciate and are acquainted with music. People begin to be familiar with music since their youths. A profound knowledge depends on individual intelligence and performing ability. Thus, it can be said that among all kinds of art, music is more well-known and plays a very important role in the education of the people in every countries."

          A speech by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in recognition of the Certificate and Honorary Membership No. 23 bestowed by the Academy for Music and Performing Arts of Vienna, on October 5, 1964

The Supreme Artist (1955-2016)

          “His Majesty the King was very fond of Phra Chen Duriyang, a music expertise of the Fine Arts Department. He gave a royal command to print all of the music books created by Khun Pra. During the printing and proof reading process, he gained a lot of knowledge. If he had a doubt, he would inquire Khun Phra directly. Though His Majesty did not keen in theory, he could always hit the right note", Khun Phra said.

 Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sirinthorn

          King Bhumibhol Adulyadej's ingeniousness in music was recognized internationally. His Majesty was a world-class musician and a composer. He had composed and played in different kind of music bands. The Academy for Music and Performing Arts of Vienna had presented him a Certificate and Honorary Membership No. 23 on October 5, 1964

          As for Thai music, His Majesty the King determined to reserve Thai music as a national heritage. He gave a royal command to the Fine Arts Department to publish a book called Keynote of Thai Music Bookt as a standard for Thai musician in the next generation. The King also supported a research on Thai music scale and conducted experiments on mixing international instrument with Thai Krueng Sai (string instruments). Through the eyes of all Thai people, He evidentially earned the name 'Supreme Artist.

          Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graciously presided over the opening ceremony of Suan Sunandha Cultural Center on January, 4th 1990. On that auspicious occasion H.R.H. joined the Thai music band which was the great honor of Suan Sunandha community.


"Her Majesty the Queen wanted to listen to “ Lao Duang Duan ” which was her favorite song. The queen said to the her kids that “ Chai will you sing Lao DuangDuan for me, sing the way I like, Noi play the music and Lek do the dancing ..."

Professor Emeritus Dr. Poonpis Amatayakul

H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is a talented musician, especially in Thai music, since her childhood. In addition to her ability to play different types of instruments, such as Ranad Aek (alto Xylophone), Saw Duang (treble friddle), and Ja-kae (Thai Zither), she also composed many Thai songs and could sing beautifully. She gracefully accepted Thai music teachers under her patronage and urges educational institutes, secondary schools, and universities to set up musical activities which help promote and conserve Thai music. "Thai music will prevail because of her devotion"

Seree Wangnaitam

          Thai music has been considered as an aesthetic art form that gradually developed, for a certain period of time, according to to the way of life and the diversity of the culture. Finally, it has resulted in the unique characteristic of Thai music.


The Origin of Rattanakosin Music (1782A.D.-1809A.D.)
          The reign of King Rama I was the period of cultural restoration in all aspects. In order to boost the morale of the Thai people who suffered a great lost from the last war of Ayutthaya, the King passed a royal command to collect and revise many famous literatures such as Ramakien (Ramayana) and -nao (the story of a Java king), Additionally, the command included the restoration of music used in dance drama or Lakom in Thai. During his reign, one of the most important literatures in early Rattanakosin era named “Kaki” was composed by Chao Praya Pra Klang (a high ranking civil officer in charge of the treasury).


Golden Age of Literature. (1809A.D.-1824A.D.)
          The harmonious atmosphere during the reign of King Rama II fostered all kinds of art form. One of the significant sign of this was the origin of “Sor Sam Sar” (Three-singed fiddler), Because it was the King's favorite musical instrument and could be wonderfully played, thus it was elaborately developed until it reached the pinnacle of its beauty. He also composed a very famous song named Bulan Loy Loen” or “Praise of the Moon. The first Phi Pat band which played with special type of lyric called Sepa was formed. Lakorn Nai, a solely female dance troop which played exclusively in the royal court, was also popular. Chao Chom Manda (The Royal Mother) Sila was the original musician of the royal court of Rattanakosin.


The sound of music (1824A.D.-1851A.D.)
          During the reign of King Rama III, the Royal Performance Department was repealed by the Royal Command. Many royal members took the musicians and other artists under their patronages in order to compete amongst each other, this practice inspired the creation and modification of new genres of Thai music. One of the most important and influential musicians at the time was Kru Mee Kaek.


The Era of Mixed Culture King Rama IV (1851 A.D. - 1868 A.D.)
          In the reign of King Rama IV, the royal enactment that "Prohibited other compounds apart from the Royal Palace to own a female dance theater" was repealed. This encouraged music and theater to flourish among the monarchs and courtiers, especially in the palace of King Pinklao (King Rama V's younger brother and the second King of Siam) who appreciated Phi Pat (a type of Thai musical ensemble comprised mainly of string instruments”) and organized the Kaen musical band (Kaen is a music instrument widely played in the north-eastern part of Thailand and Laos LPD). His band was well-known and appreciated among the elites. During this period, the Phi Pat band was expanded to a larger scale by introducing extra musical instruments; also, western music instrument was first introduced to Thai music during this time period.


Integration of Music (1858 A.D.-191O A.D.)
          After a state visit to Europe, King Rama V had a strong determination to make Siam equivalent to western civilizations. The beginning of Lakorn Duk Dam Ban was created using western Opera as the paradigm. Wong Phi Pat was fine-tuned making its sound more subtle according to the concept of western music. By the end of his reign, he wrote one of his outstanding plays named Ngor Pa” which was a famous and well-known literature to this date


Glory of Music and Drama in the Royal Palace (1910 A.D. – 1925 A.D.)
          After the reign of his father, King Rama VI who had his education in England, had a particular interest in Arts including music and drama. He composed several musical plays and dramas. The civil officer in the Division of Entertainment was granted the tile of Praya” which was the second highest rank in the office. During his reign, music and plays were highly popular among the royalty, nobility and people of wealth, each palace and household had its own ban to compete with one another. The combination of Thai string ensemble and foreign music instruments originated from this reign.


The Siam of Music Modification (1925 A.D. – 1934 A.D.)
          King Rama VII had composed three significant songs; Ratree Pradab Dao Tao, Khmer La-or Ong Tao and Hom Rong Kluen Kratop Fang. He passed a royal command to Prince Damrong Rajanubhab and the Royal Academy to record Thai music using international key notes. A radio station was established. Many people composed new songs in order to be broadcasted on the radio.

Thai Music in Democracy Period (1934 A.D. – 1946 A.D.)

The nationalism policy by the government of General Plaek Piboonsongkram, the prime minister of Thailand, required all musicians to hold a professional music license. That led to the deterioration of Thai music at that time. However, the prime minister had established the school of music which is now the College of Dramatic Arts, in order to support and develop Thai music and drama. Suntraraporm band, which harmonized Thai lyrics together with international music, was set-up and the songs still enjoy immense popularity even to this day.



Music in Royal Ceremony

          “...the royal ceremony, either conducts by the king or by his representatives, cannot be performed without Mahoree Phi Pat (Thai traditional music) because the sound of music will enhance and inspire people's spirit and strengthen their concentration in that ceremony. Once the playing of music in royal ceremony became successful we inherit it as our tradition."

          Music in the Royal Ceremony is a unique kind of music due to its superior quality and exclusively performed only by skillful artists to reflect the supremacy of the Royal institution. Aside from enhancing the dignity of the monarch, it is also an important component of classical drama such as khon, a genre of Thai dance drama solely performed in the royal court, and lakorn-duk-dambนn (opera oriented dance drama).


Coronation Ceremony

          "He scattered the golden and silver bullet wood flowers, poured the ceremonial water, made a prayer and a wish. The Brahmin blew the Maha Sang-a rare right coiled conchcreating the sound of Music, after that the king went into the royal houseto offer alms.

 Daily routing archives of King Rama V, 1868

          Music in royal ceremony was viewed as a medium between human's minds and supernatural power. The holy ceremony stipulated in the monarch law and was strictly conducted by the King since Sukhothai period. The music was characterized into 2 types: Krueng Phrakome and Krueng Banleng.

Krueng Phrakom

          The word "Krueng Phrakom” is not the name of the music band but indicate the function of the music which performs on the auspicious occasion according to Brahmin's belief. It consists of Wong Trae Sang and Wong Kratang Trae Mahoratuek, and is performed in honor of the King and the members of the royal family.

Krueng Banleng
          Krueng Banleng is the musical band which is played both in auspicious and inauspicious occasions in order to produce melodiousness. This band consists of Wong Kabmai, Wong Klongchana, Wong Phi Jawa Klongkaek and Wong Phi Phat. Krueng Banleng which is performed in the royal ceremony demonstrates the music tradition in the royal Court.

Under the Patronage

          Under the patronage of the monarch, Thai traditional music reached its golden age. Each palace and wealthy household had a musical band of their own. They searched for professional musicians to join their bands; during this time, many important pieces of music were composed.

During the reign of King Rama V through King Rama V, the aforementioned patronage was practiced among the members of the monarch such as the music band in the palace of King Pinklao which had Pra Phradit Pairor (Mee Duriyangkul or Kru Mee Kaek) as a mentor and in the palace of Princess Sudaratanarajaprayun which had Kru Choi Soontornwatin as a mentor.


“ The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with Concord of Sweet Sounds, Is fit treasons, stratagems and spoils.”

“Merchant of Venice” by Shakespeare translated by King Rama 6


Music band competition

“...Bhurapa Bhiromya came with a full scale Phi Pat band with only young players while Samut Songkram came with a smaller band and the musicians were elderly players, no less than 50 years of age. After the competition was finished, all the audiences agreed that the Samutr Songkram was much better than Bhurapa Bhiromya. I had known later that they all were famous music teachers...”

Prince Damrong Rajanubhab

          Thai music continued to be prosperous throughout the reign of King Rama V and Rama VI. The royal grand palace and other palaces had their own music bands. Listening to music was a popular aesthetic leisure; it was the tradition of the royal families to accept famous musicians under their patrons. At that time, the famous music teachers were Jang Wang Tua Pattayakosol of Bangkhunphrom palace, Jang Wang Son Silpabanleng of Bhurapa Bhiromya palace, Phraya Sanor Duriyang (Cham Soontornvatin) of Chao Praya Dhrammadhikornadhibordi's band. Music competitions, at that time, motivated musicians to find new techniques and composed new pieces of music which continues to contribute great benefit to the musical society to this day.


Her Royal Highness Princess Adorndibyanibha

Mixed String Female Band

Her Royal Highness Princess Adorndibyanibha had shown a particular interest in music from her early age and was well-known as ‘Ja kae' player (Jake - a three-stringed

musical instrument). She also encouraged her family members andcourtiers to practice music, and capable to form a mixed-stringfemale band in Suan Sunandha.

Usually the band performed mainly in the palace area, but would be performing in different palace for special occasions such as the birthday ceremony. At that time, her band was one of the full stringed-instrument bands in Suan Sunandha. The band was mentored by a famous music teacher, Chao Thepkunya (Na Chiang Mai) Buranapim who was an expert in all kinds of string instruments. The musicians in the band consisted of Khun Supattra Singholaga - violin and saw duang; Khun Boonpong - saw samsai; Khun Sae - saw au; Khun Saengkae - saw duang; Khun Sangkai and Khun Chalerm Boonnak played flutes. The band was considered the most modern musical mixture at the time.

Her Highness Princess Saisavali Bhiromya, Princess Suddhasininart

Thai Music Patronage

          Her Highness Princess Saisavali Bhiromya, the princess consort of King Rama V, encouraged her courtiers to practice music by inviting professional teachers to teach them in the palace compound. The Princess's musicians was on duty when the king was in his sleeping chamber or during the leisure time.

          When King Rama V was afflicted with Malaria, he composed a play called "Ngor Pa”. The king narrated the poem while H.R.H Princess Nibha Nobhadol, his daughter wrote it down accordingly. After the music was composed and handed down to Her Highness Princess Saisavali Bhiromya, she had the performance and was impressed enormously by the King.

           During her stay at Suan Sunandha, music practicing became common among her attendants. On some special occasions, when Princess Dara Rasmi visited Suan Sunandha, her former courtiers would gather and entertain her with music at the mansion of Her Highness Princess Saisavali Bhiromya.

Her Royal Highness Princess Chudharatana Rajakumari

Female Angklung Band

           Her Royal Highness Princess Chudharatana Rajakumari had a passion for music, both singing or Lakorn (Thai drama). She had established a female Angklung band in Suan Sunandha. At that time, the Angklung