หมอลำ or "MOLAM" music is coming from Laos and "ISAN" area (อีสาน - northeastern part of Thailand).

Molam music lyrics tell the singers' own stories, the village life, tragic love stories and labor exploitation. "MOLAM" is rhythmically powerful, vocally dynamic and is popular throughout Thailand.

The instrumentation for "MOLAM" music includes the reed organ ("KAEN" - แคน), the guitarlike "PHIN" (พิณ), a bowed string instrument ("SOR" - ซอ), a hand drum and a circular panpipe.

molam concert
Molam concert
molam concert

In the more urban forms of "MOLAM", the traditional instruments are augmented by and sometimes replaced by synthesizers, electric bass and a Western drum set.

Smaller-scale performances are common at Buddhist festivals, temple fairs and ceremonies such as funerals and weddings. These performances often include improvised material and passages of teasing dialogue between the singer and members of the audience.
molam concert
Molam concert

Performance of "MOLAM" was mainly a local affair confined to events and festivals in "ISAN". However in the 1970s and 1980s, more and more people left "ISAN" in search of work, the music spread with them. "MOLAM" performers began to appear on television, and it gained a national profile. At the same time, "ISAN" food became also more and more popular in Thailand. The music remains an important link to home for "ISAN" people in Bangkok, where "MOLAM" clubs and karaoke bars act as meeting places for "ISAN" migrants.

molam concert
Modern "MOLAM" is increasingly sexualised and is lacking in the moral teachings which it should traditionally convey. Commercial music encourage rapid production and imitation rather than quality and originality. These adaptations have allowed "MOLAM" not only to survive, but also to spread into the rest of Thailand and even internationally.
Molam concert

There are several kinds of Molam music such as "molam sing" (หมอลำซิ่ง), "molam pun lai" (หมอลำพันลาย), "molam phleun" (หมอลำเพลิน), "molam sa oon" (หมอลำสะออน) and so on... For example "MOLAM SING" songs start very slowly and then burst into very entertaining music. Dancing "MOLAM" is completely different from foreign dances. No contact between bodies but slow and harmonious hands and feet movements.

Molam concert are very popular in "ISAN" area (อีสาน - northeastern part of Thailand). People arrive early in order to install a rug to indicate that this spot is already taken. During the concert, sellers wander in the crowd and propose snacks, balloons and drinks.
molam concert
Molam concert

Molam shows are often mixed with humorous spectacles. During a whole evening from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. there is a parade of singers with many feminine dancers changing costumes for each song. "MOLAM" singers are expert in verbal games when singing.

molam dancers
ome of the most popular current artists are Banyen Rakgan, Chalermphol Malaikham, Jintara Poonlarp, Siriporn Ampaipong and Pornsack Songsaeng.
Molam dancers

Molam songs are difficult to understand because Isan people speak quite fast. Isan language is similar to Lao language. Some words are specific to "ISAN" area and "ISAN" people tend to eat part of words.

Molam popular bands have huge performance stages with the name of the band written in huge letters. Singers and dancers are performing on the lower stage. Musicians are performing on a higher stage.
molam concert
Molam concert

Molam singers often receive money, flowers when singing. This is a way for listeners to show their satisfaction. Great singers receive many garlands. Each time the singer thanks with a "WAI" (ไหว้ - Thai greeting) even if he or she receives only 10 Baht. There are also schools for "MOLAM" singers where they learn to sing and dance gracefully.

molam band
"SIENG ISAN" (เสียงอีสาน - literally "the voice of Isan") is the most popular Molam band. Thousands of people gather to see their performance.
Molam band

Molam orchestra VIDEO

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