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BRUCE GASTON : The Great Reflection Of Traditional Thai Music

One foriegner who live in Thailand for long and pay most of his life to be the great reflection, and also great teacher for all Thai traditional musicians : Read Bruce Gaston’s thought below and you can find that  “It’s always  no border line  in any world of ART”


“Excerpt form the special  lecture session “Traditional, Thai Music, Thai ways of  thoughts and Wisdoms.”  By Ajarn [teacher] Bruce Gaston


“Traditional, Thai Music is Thai ways of thoughts and Wisdoms”

We study traditional Thai music and the way of Thai musical thought not only because we are living in Thailand, but also to learn from the rich culture Thai heritage and what it can teach us about ourselves at present. Thai musical is challenging detailed and delicate, always mingled with the freedom o f individual expression.

Thai musical ideas are always composed to allow for a number of possible rendering.

Nothing is set down in notes, written on page, but is handed down orally, to be heard and then played according to the musical experience of each musician.

And all this happens simultaneously. So the idea of “ Tayoy” becomes central in Thai music.

“Tayoy” could be translated as sauntering, which in this context means all the musician heading to the same goal, but each one proceeds along their own path on the way to that common goal. This is also a paradigm for all of Thai society, even to this modern era, hence the texture of our political life. His Marjesty King the Rama 4th noted that the difference between the Thai army and European “colonizing” armies was that the Europeans walked in step of a common beat. This was not the style of the Thai army, where is one walked to his own inner “drummer”, but toward the same goal.

The older generation of Thai musicians were exerts in balancing the +tamnong derm+ or cantus firmus, which is the basic melodic structure heard only in the heads of the musicians and the often widely divergent expressions of that secret “tamnong derm” referred to as “tang” of way of rendering the “tamnong derm.” The “tang”’s of the various musicians in the ensemble are always improvised with grace and beauty according to the Thai sense of balanced musical lines. The musical rhyming schemes give these line a musical logic which is characteristically Siamese. Careful study of how the tang for each instrument constructed is the beginning of the understanding of Thai musical thought .

That the normal texture of Thai music is heterophonic improvisation implies that the ideal sound is clear and easily distinguishable from other sound. This is because of Thai teacher wished to compose a music where the listener would choose which instrument on which to focus. Thus, each musical line should be clearly differentiated from the other instrumental lines. The concept of “blending” sounds is comparable to Thai food where the various flavors combine in such a way that we can taste each flavor independently. By extension, music used to accompany Royal ceremonies often consists of various complete ensemble playing unrelatedly at the same time.

This is also the musical logic behind Thai temple fairs where the chaos of independent soundscapes occurring unconnected confused the Western listener while the Thai all consider to be fun.

These are a few examples of how ancient Siamese musical thought can stimulate modern music.

Certainly, the music of Charles Ives and John Cage, who were interested in these ways of thinking demonstrate That Thai musical thought can be a stimulus for all the musicians around the world .


Bruce Gaston

Bruce Gaston

Bruce Gaston

Born : 11 March 1940

Address:   606/2 Sukhumwit 65, Sukhumwit Road, Prakanong Nue, Wattana, Bangkok, 10110

Education :

1962   Morning Side High School

1967   Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, University of Southern California

1969   Master’s degree in Authorization, University of Southern California

Present Work  :  Musician, composer of various kinds of performance including opera , symphony, orchestra, soundtrack for the motion picture, play, contemporary dance ,concert performance with Fong Nam band and solo pianist.


Copyright © 2009 By GoodSiam.com

Information Source : The Queen’s  Gallery



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