The King's Musical Legacy: Memories shared

The King's Musical Legacy: Memories shared

Playing with the famous clarinetist Benny Goodman.
Playing with the famous clarinetist Benny Goodman.

Pathorn started to play with His Majesty when he was only 13 & helped him prepare the final versions of his 48 compositions, a legacy celebrated at EmQuartier Nov 29 to Dec 11.


The King's Musical Legacy: A musical partner shares his memories

Melalin Mahavongtrakul

If there's one accomplishment in His Majesty's life that people are most familiar with, it's his virtuosity in music.

Few people knew the King and his music better than Pathorn Srikaranonda, age 43.

Mr. Pathorn was the King's musical partner from age 13, after his father, national artist and maestro Manrat Srikaranonda, got him to play an instrument in front of the late monarch.

Since then, Pathorn played music for and with the King as a member of A.S. Friday -- the King's private band.

King Bhumibol also sponsored Pathorn through his tertiary education abroad in musical composition with his own personal funds.

Pathorn looks back at his precious memories of those times.


The King and a younger Pathorn Srikaranonda. Photo courtesy of Pathorn Srikaranonda

In King Bhumibol's early days, he founded Lai Khram -- a music band featuring his elderly relatives.

Later he recruited younger musicians into the band and they began broadcasting their live sessions from the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall within Dusit Palace on Fridays.

The band's name was later changed to Au Sau Wan Sook (A.S. Friday).

"The King realised and acknowledged the power of music, and at the time he used it to communicate with the people," Pathorn said.

"Anyone could call in to request music. If the band couldn't play that song, then he would play the record instead."

"He even answered the phone himself. People didn't know they were speaking to the King as His Majesty didn't like to reveal his presence."

After the political unrest in 1973, the broadcast stopped as the King grew busy with work and rural outings and the band only gathered for occasional private jam sessions.


"For the past 40 years, many thought the King had given up his instruments, but he still played all the time, though mainly to relax from his work," said Pathorn.

"When His Majesty played, he was most himself. We have seen him as a king, a developer, but never really as a human being. We can feel that through his music."

Some of the instruments to be exhibited at The Royal Music Legacy. Photos: Jetjaras na Ranong

Pathorn cited Sidney Bechet, Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges and Louis Armstrong as some of King Bhumibol's favourite artists.

"I once asked the King why he wasn't into contemporary music like, say, Michael Jackson. But it was quite understandable. He was a teenager in the pre-World War II era, and that reflected in his thinking. It was his generation."

Later, the A.S. Friday royal band played for the King while he lived on the 16th floor of Siriraj Hospital in recent years.

"There wasn't even space for us to play. People would think the King resided in a big fancy room, but it was just an ordinary patient room. We sang songs for him, and I played on a small keyboard. We gave His Majesty hope and courage -- just a little thing we can do after what he's been doing for Thai people for the past 70 years," Pathorn said.


His Majesty's favourite instrument was an alto saxophone.

He could also play the clarinet, trumpet, piano, guitar and drums.

A young King Rama IX plays the piano. Photos courtesy of Pathorn Srikaranonda


The King was really into old-school jazz, like New Orleans jazz or swing. He liked melodies that didn't move too fast.

New Orleans jazz, according to Pathorn, is set apart from other kinds of jazz with its collective improvisation.

"It's like solo improvisation, but with a lot of people at the same time. You need good listening skills, and you need to interact with one another as everything happens in real time. You can't really plan it. That was one of His Majesty's skills, and one that he passed on to me."

"He taught that, as in a band, everyone must perform their duty well in society. We're all gears and wheels in a machine and, regardless of size, we matter equally -- whether you're a king, taxi driver, barber, soldier or businessman. Everyone has a duty, and if everyone performs their duty well, the country will move forward. That is what the King taught via music, via New Orleans jazz."


In 1946, as a prince, the King composed Sang Thien (Candlelight Blues) -- a post-war reflection, as well as his experiment with blues music.

"His Majesty didn't release the song right away. The timing wasn't right. People were still stressed over the war"

"Instead, he put out easy listening numbers like Yam Yen (Love At Sundown) and Sai Fon (Falling Rain) to soothe the people."

Following the uprising of 1973, the King's composition took a patriotic turn with the release of Kwarm Fun Un Soong Sood (The Impossible Dream): 

And Rao Su (or literally, We Fight):

"Music, at the time, was the King's stratagem in ruling."

"He used it to instil the love of our nation into people's hearts. He also gave encouragement and motivation through his music, like Yim Su [Smiles], a song he composed for the blind."


Trumpet in the style of jazz artist Dizzy Gillespie.

"Before, the King would write notes by hand on paper. Later, he began to use a computer. But as there was no software back then, he drew the notes and lines -- one by one -- on the computer," recalled Pathorn who has preserved these priceless artefacts.

It was in 2004 that the King and Pathorn began to revise and correct (edit) the musical notation of the royal compositions.

Pathorn would create sheet music on a computer, and the King would later look through and correct any mistakes by hand.

There are 48 royal compositions that have been released to date, and sifting through them took five years as the two could only work together on Saturdays.


"Through the years, His Majesty would constantly revise his songs. Some he made more contemporary. Some he altered as he gained more knowledge of music theory," said Pathorn.

"We could say His Majesty was a perfectionist."

All but one song -- Candlelight Blues -- were personally revised by the King.

His Majesty didn't get a chance to completely revise his first royal composition as his health began to deteriorate.

Pathorn later revised the composition, compiled the entire collection and presented it to the King.

These officially revised music sheets will be available at the event so musicians can learn how to play the royal compositions correctly.


As a tribute to King Rama IX's contribution and legacy in music, Pathorn is partnering with EmQuartier mall to organise "The Royal Music Legacy" event starting next week.

The event will see a wide range of activities including talk shows, exhibitions and workshops on the King's music.

Highlights of the event include the display of never-before-seen musical instruments that the King gifted to A.S. Friday's band members, as well as unpublished scores of his royal compositions.

The Royal Music Legacy will be held from Nov 29 to Dec 11 at the Quartier Gallery on M Floor of EmQuartier shopping complex.

Assoc Prof Pathorn Srikaranonda. Photo: Jetjaras na Ranong

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  • abroad: in or to a foreign country - ในต่างประเทศ
  • accomplishment: something that is successful, or that is achieved after a lot of work or effort - ความสำเร็จ, การบรรลุผล
  • according to (prep): as stated or reported by somebody/something - ตามคำบอกเล่า, ตามรายงาน
  • acknowledge: to accept or admit that something exists, is true or is real - ยอมรับ
  • activity (noun): a thing that you do for work, interest or pleasure, or in order to achieve a particular aim - กิจกรรม
  • artist: a professional entertainer such as a singer, a dancer or an actor - ศิลปิน
  • blind (adj): unable to see (Note: Nowadays we often use the term "visually-impaired" instead of "blind") - ตาบอด
  • blues: a feeling of sadness and loss - ความเศร้าหมอง
  • broadcast: a programme that can be seen or heard on television or radio - แพร่ภาพกระจายเสียง
  • broadcast: to send out a programme on television or radio - กระจายเสียง,กระจายข่าว
  • chance (noun): a possibility; a likelihood; an opportunity - โอกาส
  • collection (noun): a group of objects, often of the same sort, that have been collected (gathered together over period of time) - สิ่งของที่รวบรวมไว้, การสะสม การเก็บรวบรวม
  • collective: involving all the members of a group - โดยรวม ทั้งคณะ (การตัดสินชี้ขาดจากศาล)
  • communicate (verb): to express thoughts, feelings, or information to another person or animal, for example by speaking or writing - สื่อสาร, ติดต่อสื่อสาร
  • compose: to produce music, poetry or formal writing - แต่งขึ้น
  • composition: a piece of music or art, or a poem - การแต่งเพลง, การประพันธ์
  • constantly: continuously; all the time - อย่างต่อเนื่อง
  • contemporary: belonging to the present time - ที่อยู่ในปัจจุบัน, ทันสมัย
  • contribution: something that you do that helps to achieve something or to make it successful - ผลงาน,การช่วยเหลือ
  • courage (noun): the ability to do something that you know is right or good, even though it is dangerous, frightening, or very difficult - ความกล้าหาญ
  • deteriorate: to become worse - เลวร้ายลง
  • dream (noun): a series of images, events and feelings that happen in your mind while you are asleep - ความฝัน
  • duty: something that you have to do because it is part of your job, or something that you feel is the right thing to do - หน้าที่, ความรับผิดชอบ
  • editing (noun): preparing a text, tape or film for use by correcting mistakes and deciding what will be removed and what will be kept in, etc - การตัดตอ
  • elderly: (of people) old - สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก
  • encouragement: words or actions that give someone confidence or hope - กำลังใจ; คำให้กำลังใจ
  • exhibition: a public show where art or other interesting things are put so that people can go and look at them - นิทรรศการ งานแสดง
  • experiment: to try or test new ideas, methods, etc. to find out what effect they have - ทดลอง
  • familiar: well known to you, or easily recognised by you - คุ้นเคย
  • favourite (adj): something/someone you like the best of all similar things - ที่ชอบมากที่สุด, ที่โปรดปราน, ของโปรด
  • feature: to include someone or something as an important part - ทำให้เด่น
  • found: to start an organization, company, political party etc - สร้าง, ก่อตั้ง, สถาปนา
  • funds: money needed or available to spend on something - เงินทุน
  • generation: a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time - รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
  • highlight (noun): the most exciting, impressive, or interesting part of an event - จุดเด่น, จุดสำคัญ, เหตุการณ์สำคัญ,
  • human being (noun): a person rather than an animal or a machine - มนุษย์
  • impossible (adjective): something that cannot happen - เป็นไปไม่ได้
  • improvisation: changes that have not been tried before -
  • instrument: a musical instrument such as a guitar, a piano or a flute -
  • interact: communicate with or react to - มีปฏิกิริยากับ
  • jam sessions: when a band or musical group plays together and experiments with new things -
  • jazz (noun): a style of music that developed in the US among African Americans with a strong beat and lots of free playing or "improvisation" - แจ๊ส, ดนตรีแจ็ส
  • late: dead - ที่ล่วงลับไปแล้ว
  • legacy: something that someone has achieved that continues to exists after they stop working or die - สิ่งที่สืบทอด
  • literally: really true; exactly as what was said - อย่างแท้จริง, อย่างตามตัวอักษร
  • live: happening now, i.e., not recorded earlier - ถ่ายทอดสด
  • maestro: a great performer, usually, but not always, a musician - ผู้ชำนาญในศิลปะแขนงต่างๆ
  • melody: a tune, especially the main tune in a piece of music written for several instruments or voices, the arrangement of musical notes in a tune - ทำนองเพลง
  • member: a person, a country or an organization that has joined a particular group, club or team - สมาชิก
  • memory (noun): something that you remember from the past; the ability to remember information, experiences and people - ความจำ
  • monarch: a king or queen - กษัตริย์ หรือราชินี
  • motivation: a reason for doing something - แรงจูงใจ
  • musical notation: the musical notes that tell musicians how to play music on their instruments -
  • musician (noun): a person who plays a musical instrument or writes music, especially as a job - นักดนตรี
  • nation: a country considered as a group of people with the same language, culture and history, who live in a particular area under one government; all the people in a country - ประเทศ, คนในประเทศ
  • National Artist: a title given to Thai artists and musicians who have done important work to preserve and extend Thai culture and arts - ศิลปินแห่งชาติ
  • number (noun): the performance of a piece of music or dance or other entertainment -
  • occasional: happening or done sometimes but not often - ซึ่งเป็นครั้งคราว
  • officially: publicly and by somebody who is in a position of authority - อย่างเป็นทางการ
  • ordinary: not unusual or different in any way - ธรรมดา, ปกติ
  • outing: a trip that you go on for pleasure or education, usually with a group of people and lasting no more than one day - การเดินทางท่องเที่ยวระยะสั้น
  • palace: the official home of a king, queen, president, etc, a large impressive house - พระราชวัง, ตำหนัก, ปราสาท
  • partner (noun): two people, businesses, organizations, etc that work together on some project or business - ผู้ร่วมมือ, ผู้ร่วมกระทำ
  • patient: someone who is receiving medical treatment - คนป่วย, คนไข้
  • patriotic (adj): having or expressing a great love of your country - ด้วยความรักชาติ
  • perfectionist: a person who likes to do things perfectly and is not satisfied with anything less - ผู้ยึดความสมบูรณ์แบบ
  • perform (verb): to do what is required - ปฏิบัติหน้าที่
  • perform a duty: to do what your job requires - ปฏิบัติหน้าที่
  • personal: your own; not belonging to or connected with anyone else - เป็นส่วนตัว
  • personally: used for saying that you talking about yourself or are giving your own opinion - โดยส่วนตัว
  • power: ability to control and influence people and events - ที่มีอิทธิพล
  • precious: of great value because of being rare, expensive or important - มีค่า,ล้ำค่า
  • presence: the fact of being in a particular place, thing or situation - การเข้าร่วม, การมีอยู่
  • prince (noun): a male member of a royal family who is not king, especially the son or grandson of the king or queen - เจ้าชาย
  • private: intended for or involving a particular person or group of people, not for people in general - ส่วนตัว
  • range: a number of different things that are of the same general type - ขอบข่าย
  • realise (verb): to know about - ตระหนัก  รู้
  • recall: to remember - จำได้ นึกทบทวน
  • recruit: to get someone to work in a company or join an organisation - จ้างงาน
  • reflect: to show - สะท้อน แสดงถึง
  • reflection (noun): careful thought about something, sometimes over a long period of time - การไตร่ตรอง
  • regardless of: without being affected or influenced by anything else that happens or exists - โดยไม่คำนึงถึง
  • relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง
  • relax: to become calm and not anxious - ผ่อนคลาย
  • release: the act of making something available to the public - การนำออกแสดง, การออกวางจำหน่าย
  • reside: to live in a particular place - อยู่อาศัย
  • reveal: to let something become known - เปิดเผย
  • revise: to change, improve, or make additions to something - แก้ไข
  • right away: immediately; now - โดยทันทีทันใด, อย่างทันที
  • ruling: having control over a particular group, country, etc - ซึ่งมีอำนาจ, ซึ่งปกครอง
  • rural: connected with the countryside outside big towns and cities  - ในชนบท, บ้านนอก
  • saxophone: a metal musical instrument that you blow into, used especially in jazz - แซ็กโซโฟน, เครื่องดนตรีประเภทเป่า
  • score (noun): a written or printed version of a piece of music showing what each instrument is to play or what each voice is to sing - โน้ตเพลง
  • session (noun): a period of time that is spent doing a particular activity -
  • sheet: a thin flat piece of paper, metal, plastic, glass etc - สิ่งที่เป็นแผ่นแบน (เช่น แผ่นกระดาษ, แผ่นเหล็ก, แผ่นแก้ว)
  • solo: done alone - กระทำเพียงคนเดียว, กระทำเพียงฝ่ายเดียว
  • soothe (verb): to make somebody who is anxious, upset, etc. feel calmer; to make a tense or painful part of your body feel more comfortable - ทำให้สงบ, บรรเทาความเจ็บปวด
  • sponsor: to support a person, organization or activity by giving money, encouragement or other help - อุปถัมภ์, สนับสนุน
  • strategem: a strategy, a plan that is intended to achieve a particular purpose - ยุทธวิธี, กลวิธี
  • stressed: affected by pressure, worry, etc. - วิตกกังวล
  • sundown: the time in the evening when you last see the sun in the sky - เวลาพระอาทิตย์ตก
  • teenager: a person who is between the ages of 13-19 - บุคคลที่มีอายุระหว่าง 13-19 ปี, คนรุ่นหนุ่มรุ่นสาว, วัยรุ่น
  • tertiary (adj.): at university or college level - ในระดับมหาวิทยาลัยหรือวิทยาลัย
  • timing: the act of choosing when something happens; a particular point or period of time when something happens or is planned - การตัดสินเลือกเวลา, การเลือกเวลาที่เหมาะสมที่สุด
  • tribute: something that you do, say, or build to show that you respect and admire someone or something - การแสดงความเคารพ ยกย่องต่อ
  • trumpet: a musical instrument that is a curved metal tube with a wide end. You play it by blowing into it as you press buttons on the top. Someone who plays the trumpet is called a trumpeter or a trumpet player - แตร
  • unrest: angry or violent behaviour by people who are protesting or fighting against something - สถานการณ์ที่ไม่สงบ
  • uprising: a political situation in which a large group of people opposes and tries to defeat the government or a ruler - การลุกฮือขึ้นก่อการปฏิวัติ
  • virtuosity: being extremely skilful at doing something, especially playing a musical instrument ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ โดยเฉพาะในด้านศิลปะและดนตรี -
  • workshop: a period of discussion and practical work on a particular subject, in which a group of people share their knowledge and experience - การประชุมเชิงปฏิบัติการ
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