The pi is believed to be truly a Thai instrument used since the ancient times. The sound it produces and the blowing technique is unique to the country of Thailand. The basic material for this instrument is hardwood or marble. Its reed comes from small circular pieces of the palmyra leaves tied to a small tube made of silver, bronze, or brass. It is usually played with percussion instruments. Khaen is the most important folk instrument in north Thailand and in Laos. It is made up of fourteen long thin bamboo tubes that are four feet long. The range of the khaen covers two octaves of seven pitches. It is described to produce a drone that is often described as mournful and plaintive.
The taphon instrument is somewhat similar to the siphon of India. Instead of having it suspended from a strap on the shoulder, that taphon is a drum placed on a stand. It is played with both hands using the palms and the fingers. This instrument is included in the Piphat ensemble.
The ramana is a shallow drum that looks like a tambourine without the metallic discs. The diameter of its head is larger than the diameter of its body. Its frame is shallower and narrower than most soup plates.
The thon ramana is a bowl-shaped ceramic drum that is used in the Mahori ensemble. Its head is made from various skins of goats, calves, and snakes. It is played with one hand covering and opening the open end of the body in order to control the tone and the other hand tapping the beat.
The jakhae or jakhe is shaped like a crocodile. Its body is big and hollow in order to resonate the sound of the instrument better. It is placed horizontally on the floor as the player sits on the ground. This instrument has a long neck, a sound box, and three strings attached to pegs. This is Thailand’s most important stringed instrument with the most beautiful sound.
The saw sam sai resembles much the Japanese shamisen, but is triangular in shape with a spiked leg. Its body is made from coconut shells and calf-skin. It has three strings with no frets on the neck. The pitch of the string depends on the size of the coconut shell.
Ranat thum is a box-shaped metallophone that is placed on the floor and played while sitting. It has a range of two-and-a-half octaves that is truck by a padded mallet. Khawng wong lek is a set of gong circles with low pitches that are an octave lower than the khawng wong yai. These tuned gong-kettles are arranged horizontally in a circular frame, where the player sits at the center beating the gongs with two mallets.
Khawng wong yai is also a circle of gongs. It is the largest of all the sets of gongs in Thailand. It is composed of 17 knobbed bronze pot-gongs placed into a circular wooden frame. The gong player sits within the circular frame to enable him to strike the gongs with ease. A mallet is used to strike the pot-gongs.
The ching chap is a set of percussion instruments likened to a pair of cymbals. It is made out of a thick metal shaped like a tea cup. It is played by hitting both metals together. This musical instrument often emphasizes the duple meter of Thai compositions.
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