If peter doolan always failed to show up with any Thai friends at the few concerts I met him, he came with his "special" friend to the last show we attended together. That guy introduced himself as edouard degay delpeuch, ETHNOMUSICOLOGIST... Who never wrote anything about music at that time... And not much during the following 5 years.
That guy explained me that he was in Thailand to do some researches and for that purpose was spending some time with some "specialists" named maft sai and peter doolan... As you probably read the previous posts you are sure laughing already about that poor little french guy wasting his time...
Definition of "ceremony" (from an online dictionary):
1 a formal religious or public occasion, typically one celebrating a particular event or anniversary. 2 the ritual observances and procedures performed at grand and formal occasions.
"The observed situation is offered is a case, not as an example" (translated from french)... Sure it's an example, the only kind of (amateur) performance edouard degay delpeuch have been able to miserably document in Thailand! Edouard degay delpeuch could no compare what he saw to anything as he did not document else similar or different.
It's particularly interesting to see edouard degay delpeuch clearly remove every traces of Esan identity in his description of khun narin eletric phin bands while the documents used and listed at the end of his paper are often about Esan music! If the phin is clearly one of the most important symbol of Esan music (not Lao), the music performed by the khun narin eletric phin bands is most of the time excerpts from themes from Esan songs (not from Laos). I have no clue why the duo doolan/degay delpeuch both try to eradicate any traces of Esan culture from the product made out of the music of khun narin eletric phin while it sure looks like it and sounds like it and like nothing else! In this document promoting their business it's different... Though equally stupid.
*Quoted from doolan (about Waiphot Phetsuphan from central Thailand): "a full isan music combo... that means electric phin shredding, classic northeastern bass & liberal use of cowbell."
** Many communities in central or northern parts of Thailand call themselves Esan (never Lao as far as I could see). Some villages even have the inscription "Esan" written on walls at some places such as temples.
This is supposed to be the central part of his paper, explaining the role of the teacher since "recorded music replaced them".
It's totally surrealists that edouard degay delpeuch is talking here about amateur musicians performing part time in an informal band playing loops of borrowed themes from 4 or 5 famous songs (which they can of course practice to play themselves or with little help from friends) and literally apply that example to the whole Thai (Esan) professional music.
Every single professional Esan (and Thai) musicians playing traditional music or orther forms such as luk thung and molam has been learning from a teacher and in most recent cases (last 40 years), been in a propper school to learn his job!
The Thai government promoted the development of "mahawitalai natasin" (school of dramatic arts) all around the country during the 70's. Such development of professional teaching takes a major part in the preservation and transmission of local and national musical culture and is also an important part of the development of the Esan identity (it applys to other parts of the country at a lower level).
Many exemples in professional Esan music (luk thung and molam) clearly show the major importance of the relationship between the teacher and his apprentices.
are now both successful band leaders!
The luk thung beloved legend Noknoi Uraiphon still give her name to many of the singers who grew up practicing under her teaching in the Siang Esan (It used to be a very common practice in the lukthung scene). It's usual to see some of her very young family members getting their first practice of the stage during holidays (including babies!).
Can you imagine, waiting all day long at the house of the teacher or at the temple to ear 2 or 3 times in a day the song you are looking for? It doesn't make sense at all!
It's only during the 80's with the development of tape cassettes that it became possible to imagine people practicing on their own (some mid 80's tapes, usually by the composer Soraphet Pinyo, feature some instrumental versions to practice singing). I believe that edouard degay delpeuch read a common fact about young molam learning to sing by listening to tapes during the 80's and as he had no ideas about what he could write about for his "work" simply applied that fact to an amateur instrumental band.
"The wai khru is performed apart from the festivities, directly on the "sound system"* itself, generally subtracted from the general attention". (translated from french)
This little sentence is not innocent at all, it shows the evidence that edouard degay delpeuch is an expert, an important person who can access some special well kept practices while in fact nobody would even notice it or care (he insist using both "apart from "and "subtracted from"). The wai khru is nothing hidden, it's just performed before the performance. I attended many wai khru including some showed to the audience (for pedagogical purpose) or directly on the stage, as an introduction to the show or as part of the show itself. As the whole experience of edouard degay delpeuch on Thai music is limited to observing an amateur music band, his point of view is very limited! (hilarious to see edouard degay delpeuch describing one of the 2 small wai khru he ever attended as being "Spectacular"...).
*"sound system" stands obviously here as one more "reggae" reference and describes the loudspeakers and amp on a trolley. It have strictly of course no links with reggae, it's directly inspired by the trolley used by the Chinese parade bands to carry their drums.
a long drums " klong yao" section and about 100 perfectly synchronised dancers.
SUCH BAND COULD NOT EASILY GET FOOLED BY HUMAN ZOO PROMOTERS
If you are curious about the "teacher/apprentice" relationship in Thai music, the movie "monrak transistor" is a good introduction.
I just demonstrated that edouard degay delpeuch have apparently no interest for what he talks about and how he can bring discredit on the amazing Esan cultural and musical heritage by using extreme superlatives to describe microscopic events (while it's very easy to show real amazing events).
An "expert"describing and promoting such little things as "mindblowing" or "spectacular" leaves no doubt on the idea that you could not find anything much interesting around.
I also detailed his intentional cultural spoliation and the promotion of his friend's human zoo using the reputation of french universities. I will now talk about his surrealist thesis subject:
In fact, I will focus on what obviously inspired edouard degay delpeuch for his thesis subject as it seems like this joke will never get published.
As I mentioned before, edouard degay delpeuch based his researches on Thai music on 2 people I describe as FILTHY SCAMMERS. I just described the links with doolan and this thesis seems to focus on maft sai and his "thai funk" compilations.
"Thai funk" and other western dominant influences have been constantly sticked to Thai and especially Esan popular music since the beginning of the compilation business.
Of course, none of those people describing such obviously "huge influences" have any kind of clue about Thai music and of course did not live in Thailand during the time when such influences could have appeared (you can only be influenced by the music you are actually exposed to).
The self claimed expert on the subject: maft sai clearly stated: "I didn’t know anything about Thai music when I moved back to Bangkok".
If I did not live in Thailand during that period of time either, I collected lots of music and attended many concerts. As I have many friends deeply into music I could also share points of view with them.
I actually lived with some people who grew up there and who could spot some traces from some hit songs in some of the luk thung and molam I was listening to all day long. Quite often, things I never noticed myself : Some themes borrowed from songs that had some big success in Thailand, songs from India, China, Japan and sometimes of course Occident...
From my experience, Thai people have no kind of interest for "black music" and basically are usually obsessed by white skin. TV, advertising, fashion and cinema clearly promote such concept and there is (as far as I know) only 1 man of African origins on Thai soap operas (I did not notice any forms of racism and only a ew African people in Thailand). The only famous "black man" is the Thai-American golf champion Tiger Woods. I saw very very few tapes of Michael Jackson and Bob Marley (something like 10 tapes out of a million) while they had a real "international" fame. I never heard any of those "Thai funk", "dancehall", "groove", "soul", "jazz" played anywhere during my 5 years in Thailand (I did not spend much time at westerners places).
Music is an international language.
There is so much amazing music from Africa and from the descendants of the horrible human slavery, I have no interest for funk or reggae.
If maft sai is seen by music tourists as THE molam specialist, he is also behind a unique concept: Thai funk and even better: LUK THUNG, THE ROOTS OF THAI FUNK, a serie of compilations by the man with no clue about thai music.
I heard a lot of things about music in Thailand but I never ever heard anything about "Thai funk". If I look at the shitty covers of those tourist compilations, I can read the word "Esan" on the "volume two" and on "luk thung! the roots of thai funk" most of the singers pictured are Esan luk thung, I own several albums from those singers so I know about their music a little: Thepphon Phetubon, Dao Bandon, Soraphet Pinyo, Saksayam Phetchompu and Sanai Omwong (who is not Esan but of Lao origins). On the small picture I have I can't read the labels from the 7'vinyl pictures but there is a for sure a majority of Esan music in those too!
If I have strictly no interest for "funk" I must admit that I don't see the relationship between Thepphon Phetubon, Dao Bandon, Soraphet Pinyo... and funk. If luk thung (Esan) is one of the dominant form of popular music in Thailand and if it had really been the "roots of Thai funk" I am sure that I would have seen some tapes by some famous Esan singers with the word "funk" written on the covers, I would have heard some of the most influent singers, songwriters and composers of Esan music mention "funk" in interviews (including those on that "roots of thai funk" record cover), I would have seen Thai books and foreign books on Asian popular music mention such music scene that seems to have been important enough to produce 3 compilations for tourists... NOTHING.
Honestly, except from the legendary maft sai who "didn’t know anything about Thai music" I NEVER HEARD OF THAI FUNK! Hilarious to see that edouard degay delpeuch was going to write his thesis on something that doesn't exist! I really have no clue about what's in the mind of that man?
By the way, during the late 60's and 70's, some documents state that there was a pretty "anti-American" feeling in Esan (described is Esan literature and documented by foreign scholars). It's mentioned that the US army (based in Esan cites such as Udon Thani) spread alarming information about the fast development of rebellious communist groups in Esan (declassified US secret service will later prove it was in fact a tiny minority). At the same time, US troops were heavily bombing the extremely dangerous Laotian farmers to protect the world against their buffaloes and bamboo sticks...
I personally made some experiences, when I heard of the death of some famous western superstars, I asked some friends "did you see that David Bowie died?" everybody asked me "who?" I ended up showing some photos, still no answer, I finally showed the "Bowie bolt" portrait and 1 friend said he saw that on a t-shirt. When Lou Reed died, same story... I can't stand it anymore! (ok, that one was easy). Last but not least, when Gorge Michael died... Remember that I affirmed in the first post that molam was the biggest cultural gay community in the world... Nobody I asked had a clue about him. It's not a lack of culture, Esan people have their own culture and they are more than happy about it.
Most of the time if you read what EM records and maft sai say they always mention reggae as their main musical reference (roots, dancehall, sound system...). The influences attributed by such people does not relate to Esan music but to their own minimal knowledge. I personally consider reggae as one of the poorest form of music while many people consider it as something pretty boring... Some love it.
a famous french joke even says "Do you know what a rasta says when he stops smoking pot? What's that stupid music".
It's interesting to note the very important western influence on Esan music, when I mean WEST, I mean a few kilometers west, in Bangkok and central Thailand.
Pretty much all the exterior influences in Esan music have been first filtered by central Thailand.
A well known example is the southern Thai /Malay theatrical performance called likey (or dikey) which had been adapted in central Thailand before it arrived in Esan where it gave it's theatrical visual aspect to Esan story telling lam ruang to klon.
Many westernised forms of Thai music exist, in Bangkok and central Thailand (they spread in Esan too but with almost no links with molam or luk thung esan). Some forms like brass bands spread since the early 20th century because of the interest of the royal Thai family for western culture. Many other "urban" forms of occidentalised music (mostly targeting the Sino-Thai community of Bangkok) developed during the last century: Luk krung, literally "half child" clearly describe a form mixing occidental and Thai music, string (from guitar strings), shadow music (from the band the shadows), phleng phua chiwit (a kind of rebellious "rock" in old bikers outfit)... If some westerners sometimes find and insist on some western influences in Esan music, such influences pretty often come from those Thai westernised forms more that actual western music.
It's interesting to note that none of those specialists who describe such influences almost ever mention influences of places like India or China which are obviously the biggest influences in a part of the world that used to be described as "Indochina" (check all the Indian and Chinese influences in your own culture, it's already amazing 10000km away so imagine next door). "Specialists" also never mention any Islamic influences while it's particularly important in central Thai culture (which then spread in Esan).
Thai luk thung experts usually describe the main western influences behind luk thung as from the 30's: Cuban superstar Xavier Cugat (cha cha cha...) and the Parisian (French Caibbean) biguine. Such influences evolved and became the structure of the orchestras you can see during the main molam and luk thung concerts: 12 musicians featuring 2 or 3 percussionists (western and electronic drums, congas...), a large brass section (2 saxophones, trumpet, trombone...) 1 or 2 sets of synthesisers, 1 bass and 2 guitars (often tuned as phin). Sometimes some Esan instruments such as khaen, saw fiddle or pong lang are added. Such ensembles vary from one band to another (and can slightly vary from one concert to another). I could be wrong but I think such ensemble never been described by any westernershile it's the dominant form in Esan popular music for about 40 years.
Unlike the clueless information you can read everywhere, people like maft sai or peter doolan never helped Esan music to be played in Europe or USA. Many of the most famous Esan singers happen to sing all around the world and it was already the case 20 years ago!
During the late 70's Esan music faced competition against some "modern cultures" spread by movies and television. Esan historians describe molam troupes "tricking" the young audience attending temple fairs (where they could watch movies or dance at mobile disco or either attend molam) by playing some foreign music as an introduction to their shows to grab the attention of the younger audience expecting something "trendy". Such practice (probably started with the fake cover of "Marina" by Benjamin) was still common in the early 21th century (though it lost it's original intentions). I could observe it a few times: The dancers enter the stage and some international success (such as lambada) is performed in an instrumental well modified version.
For the same purpose of "grabbing teenagers attention" some lam recorded during the early 80's feature an intro "stolen" from western international hits which then switch for some heavy lam as soon as the lyrics starts. It's often noticed by westerners though it remains a very minor fact (less than 0.1% of the lam recorded during the 80's): Kraftwerk (das model, Germany), Boney M (rasputin, Euro-Caribbean), Kaoma (lambada, Brasil, France), Izhar Cohen & The Alpha Beta (A-Ba-Ni-Bi*, Israel). It's pretty hard to call such "borrowed elements" and American influence and if The Shadows (Apache, England) also been "sampled" (over 25 years after it came out) it have to be seen as an influence from the Thai "shadow music" more than from a direct influence from England.
While Esan faced foreign cultural "concurrence", the Esan music scene always answered in fun or tricky ways to keep the teenagers concerned about their culture. The best example is "rock" on the covers of the "rock Esan" albums, you always see the word "rock" (sometimes many times). There is an effort to make the covers looks like something "not usual" but once you listen to that "rock", It's not only not rock but also "very Esan". Only the name and an idea of how it should look is used while the music is sure of a new kind and sure made to target younger audience but not at all what could have been expected (it even often cover some verypopular luk thung and molam hits).
This example is of major interest, it shows how Esan music plays with cultural Invasion. The video was recorded at the hard rock cafe in Bangkok and you can see how they took some serious care about each details. It's pretty amusing .
and Kha is Thai. Used 3 times shows that she really politely insist.
The oldest exemple of western cover by an Esan singer I know is particularly interesting. In 1960, "Marina" (Rocco Granat) is a huge international success covered in many countries. In Thailand,
Benjamin gives his very own version...
During all my time in Thailand, I've almost never been exposed to western music (maybe 1mn per week while walking in the street). My molam friends never listened to non Esan music in front of me and I only saw 2 western songs covered during molam concerts. If I have been asked about my favourite singers and talked a lot about music, it was only about molam and Esan music.
I once been asked by the neighbor of a friend when I was in his village "why I was listening to molam and not linkin park". Likin Park and Justin Bieber is pretty much all I could often (visually) notice as having some interest from some young Thai. As this video shows, Linkin Park is the only foreign band performing Esan music!
To consider that some cultural forms have some influence on another culture, you must see an interest about such forms. It's clearly not the case here.
People like "maft sai" never tried to have a pertinent point about anything, he just noticed that journalists would take any crap he would say as facts and that they have better things to do than wasting 2 minutes checking for information.