It took more than three hours for the battle to end, and even then there was no eventual winner or loser. The battlefield was a theatre, rather than a war zone, and there was no official verdict recorded except the audience’s approval.
This was a Thai classical music battle between two famed ranad ekk musicians (wooden xylophone) and two pi phat ensemble bands. Such competitions, when the two “rivals” put on a show of their melodic skills for an audience, were once common when Thai classical music was an important part of the people’s lives — from birth up till death (there used to be music at Thai funerals). That competitive feature, which makes the music entertainingly fiery despite its gentle nature, is not well known today. But recently at the Bunditpatanasilpa Institute’s Wang Na Theatre, two ensembles, Kunchaorn Duriya and Luk Suriya, revived the tradition of a musical duel by performing a range of tunes, from the overture Homrong Aiyares to Phama Ha Thon Samchan and Thayoi Khamen Sam Chan. Each of the musicians also took turns to play the songs Khaek Mon Rob Wong and Tao Kin Phakbung.
A highlight was a battle between two xylophone virtuosos: Chaiyuth Tosa-nga, or Pom Boy Thai, and Meekij Intaraphiphat, or Acharn Biew, from Suphan Buri playing an overture one after another with their bands. Meekij first performed the song Sarathee Samchan and Chaiyuth later offered his own, different interpretation of the tune. Chaiyuth highlighted his speedy, rhythmic technique and a hint of modern adaptation, while Meekij maintained his traditionally firm yet sensational fashion. Both musicians adhered to the precision of every note, since they are both of prized pedigrees. Meekij is a student of village headman Prasert Sodsaeng, who was in turn a student of Thai classical music master Luang Pradit Phairoh (Sorn Silpabanleng). His expertise on the xylophone is such that he’s earned a moniker “Ai Meedkone” (Razor Man), referring to the sharp, cutting sounds of his music. Meanwhile, Chaiyuth is a son of Thai music instructors Supoj Tosa-nga and Duangnate Duriyaphan. He was active in promoting Thai classical music and was named Silpathorn Artist by the Ministry of Culture in 2010.
This article is older than 60 days, which we reserve for our premium members only.You can subscribe to our premium member subscription, here.