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  • Writer's pictureChadarat Monthienvichienchai

Birth of Thai Fusion

Back in 2018, we have a chance to perform in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan to celebrate the friendship of the two countries. In this auspicious event, the Royal Embassy of Thailand in Kazakhstan has brought together the traditional Northeastern style & Northern style bands, traditional Thai dancers, and traditional Kazakhstan instrumental group to join the event as well.

The original plan was to perform our own programme but after an afternoon of rehearsal we think otherwise. Whilst the main programme remains the same, we all decided that we could do one better.

The Popular Belief

Despite the popular belief that you can just put any instruments of any nature together or thrust the musician to play any style of music, well … well… (as Maleficent would say) it is not true. Whilst it is not entirely true, it is not an impossibility. The difficulty, then, lies in how to perform to the professional level and not just to get by.

Traditional Thai instruments have different tuning to standardised Western instruments. Those who are more familiar with the tuning of western instruments may even say Thai instruments are out of tune. Moreover, it cannot play chromatic scales or chords. To fix that the basic western instruments are needed, a new arrangement, lots and lots of rehearsal, and, of course, good crews.

The ‘Grande’ Performance

Throughout our travels we have learned that immersing ourselves into other cultures our experience multiply more than double. That is to include the people, the food, and the language. So, we talked to the people, we ate like locals, and learned their national anthem.

The performance was set outdoors by the river. It was great for the people who intended to join the concert and those passing by. We opened with their national anthem and it rallied the audiences. Mostly probably because these strange foreigners are singing in their language.

As the night went on, we started off with the standard jazz that everyone is familiar with. Switching between the traditional Thai bands and the local Dombra band. Of course, we could not end the night without all playing together. By the time that we all came up to the stage, we had gotten all the audiences pumped up. Upon hearing the combined sound of the traditional Thai instruments and the western instruments, the audience were captivated by a new unique sound. By the time the last traditional song - ค้างคาวกินกล้วย - came around, the audiences were ready to dance and we were all happy for it.

All in all, it was a great experience meeting and performing with professional musicians from all cultures, epic hospitality from the Thai Embassy and its staff. We had such a performance that was so extraordinary that we are in the work to bring forward a new project that would feature both traditional Thai and Western instruments that would be easy for the general audience to enjoy. In doing so, we also hope that we can preserve the essence and value of traditional music for the future generations.

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