sounds of Thailand




audio recordings that evoke the country, the people and their languages and the diversity of the music of the ethnic cultures



ethnic music


Over the last 2 years I have recorded the music of a number of minority peoples living in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Lampang, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.Northern Thailand is home to a diverse population of around thirty distantly related ethnicities with a common Asian heritage steeped in ancient tradition but whose history during periods of migration has created a wide variety of cultural (including musical) identities.

Musical and other cultural differences cross country borders as well as ethnic grouping. They are often related to the linguistic groupings into which the various groups fall. There are, however, myriad shades of musical performance that can differentiate even members of the same minority group, differences just as numerous as the dialectal variations between speakers of the same language.  

Music has traditionally played an important role in hill tribe communities. Music is an integral part of social, family and religious life. It is a part of ritual ceremonies, marking them and structuring them. The musical and ritual life is intimately linked to the cycle of life, to day-to-day and to the crop cycle. Music is an essential part of all ceremonies and occasions which bring members of the community together and group dancing and singing play an important part in cementing the solidarity of the village. Music was seen as the way of communicating with the spirit world, a language that the spirits would understand and appreciate. It was also on occasions the way in which members of the community would communicate- as these societies are inhibited about expressing personal feelings and emotions, courtship was traditionally conducted through music; many songs express sadness and loneliness, feelings that rarely be spoken. Songs were also an important way in which elders would teach the young the values and wisdom of the community. As much as the dress, a distinctive music helped maintain the identity of the ethnic group and was something for a tribe to be proud of. Lastly, of course, making live music was the principal form of entertainment, helping people forget their troubles and relax after a hard day in the fields.

  I have now released four albums of field recordings through Believe which can be sampled and  bought on the sites of several major distributors. Links for the Believe player are shown below.

follow the links in the menu to listen to and read about music of the ethnic cultures



Thailand's natural world, birds and other wildlife      Thai music    sounds of everyday Thai life   

music of Thailand's ethnic cultures





     all sound files in compressed mp3 form   click on track title to hear the recording

sound files are extracts from longer files in wav format