Thai Classical Singing: Its History, Musical Characteristics and Transmission, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Thai Classical Singing

Its History, Musical Characteristics and Transmission, 1st Edition

By Dusadee Swangviboonpong


256 pages

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Hardback: 9780754607908
pub: 2004-06-22
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315087351
pub: 2017-07-05
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Thai classical singing is a genre that blossomed during the golden age of music in the royal court at Bangkok during the nineteenth century. It took a variety of forms including unaccompanied songs used for narration in plays, instrumental music that was used to accompany mimed actions, and songs of entertainment accompanied by an instrumental ensemble. Today, Thai classical singing is found widely outside the court, and its influence is evident in many traditional songs. This book is the first in English to provide a detailed study of Thai classical singing. Dusadee Swangviboonpong discusses the historical background to this long-established genre, the vocal techniques that it employs, the contexts in which it is performed, the degree of improvisation that performers use, the setting of texts and the methods used to teach the songs. Teaching methods still tend to focus on oral transmission, although there have been recent attempts by the Thai authorities to standardize the way singing is taught and practised. These controls are, argues the author, a threat to the the variety in style and approach that has characterised this music and kept it alive. The book features transcriptions of Thai classical songs and a glossary of Thai terms, so making it a useful introduction to the genre.


'Dusadee's book is extraordinary in that it is a thorough treatment of Thai classical singing. It has been well researched and makes a large contribution to the literature. It will be of much interest to students of Thai music and others who focus on Thai arts and humanities. Dusadee's command of the topic, Thai classical singing, makes it a unique and valuable monograph.' Crossroads 'Dusadee Swangviboonpong has made a marvelous contribution to the small but growing body of Western-language empirical scholarship devoted to the classical music of Thailand… Swangviboonpong's volume is sure to serve as a model for empirical study by a musician writing about his own tradition, which simultaneously speaks to a global scholarly audience. The book is a carefully conceived and well-rounded study.' Notes

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; The historical dimension; The basics of Thai vocal music; Lyrics and speech-tones; Poetic form and word positioning; Some significant features of Thai vocal melody; The teaching of Thai singing; Appendices; Glossary of Thai terms; Bibliography; Audiography; Index.

About the Author

Dusadee Swangviboonpong, is Leverhulme research fellow at the Department of Music, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK. He is a distinguished Thai classical singer and musician who has performed frequently in Thailand and Europe. Dr Swangviboonpong has also taught Thai Classical Singing in both Thailand and the United Kingdom

About the Series

SOAS Studies in Music Series

SOAS Musicology Series is today one of the world’s leading series in the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our core mission is to produce high-quality, ethnographically rich studies of music-making in the world’s diverse musical cultures. We publish monographs and edited volumes that explore musical repertories and performance practice, critical issues in ethnomusicology, sound studies, historical and analytical approaches to music across the globe. We recognize the value of applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and our authors draw on current approaches in musicology and anthropology, psychology, media and gender studies. We welcome monographs that investigate global contemporary, classical and popular musics, the effects of digital mediation and transnational flows.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General