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Swangviboonpong, Dusadee (2000) Thai court singing: History, musical characteristics and means of transmission. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis deals with various aspects of Thai court singing, which is now widely found outside the court as well. Aspects include: genres; history; vocal techniques; performance contexts; influence of speech-tones on vocal melody; sources of vocal melody; degree of improvisation and variation; text setting; and teaching methods. Thai court vocal melodies that are created from khoonmelodies will share the lug tog(structural notes) with their khoonmelodies. Just as each instrumental melody created in this way will have its own characteristics, so too will the vocal melody. Each composer will create a different vocal melody from the same khoon melody according to their stylistic school and their own individual aesthetic. Although vocal melodies are not improvised, they can still vary in performance with the thaan(style) of the singer. This thesis explores the degree to which individual variation is possible, and the nature of that variation. Tanese (1988) proposed melodic formulae for the way Thai court vocal melodies are affected by the speech-tones of the lyrics. This thesis not only examines and adds to Tanese's formulae, but also shows an application of these formulae in the examination of metabole in songs. Word positioning has important implications for the use of yyan (wordless vocalisation), which has its own particular functions within a song, for example, allowing ornamentation that is free from the constraints of speech-tones. Different chan (metrical levels) of Thai court songs make use of different patterns of word positioning, and the patterns within each chanvary according to the number of rhythmic cycles in each thoon (section). The influence of the kloonpoetic form is found to be fundamental. Oral transmission is still the mainstay of the teaching of Thai court singing. Recent attempts at government homogenisation of teaching theory and practice are a threat to variety of styles and approaches in contemporary singing. Future research will be needed to assess the effect of these measures as time elapses.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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