TEST YOURSELF: Three decades of music discovery

Khammao from Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band
Khammao from Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band

The Bangkok Post’s world music column celebrates 30 years this month.

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Read the following story by John Clewley from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

The World Beat column started in Feb 1994 - a time of CDs and VCDs and the end of compact cassettes. Local markets were full of pirated movies and music on these digital formats. Fast forward to today and markets have very little in the way of pirated international popular music, although you can still find vendors selling DVDs of recent movies and TV series. In Klong Thom Market in Chinatown, most of the popular music available is Thai and comes in pirated compilations of famous luk krung and luk thung acts and singers -- an entire career on a digital flash stick.

Switching formats

Most people now rely on streaming services to get their music fix through international sites like Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp, and local ones like Joox. Even my father, at 95, uses Spotify to find jazz he likes.

What I liked about the early years of writing World Beat was that there were stores in Bangkok like Tower Records and local chains where you could find plenty of music from around the world. So, as the public switched to digital formats to enjoy their music, which weren't played on home stereo systems, music fans also shifted to consuming the music on a mobile phone.

At the same time, small independent record labels began to add vinyl to the digital downloads they offered. And as the revival of vinyl gathers pace, a lively vinyl-only DJ scene can be found in many cities, including Bangkok. Smaller clubs like Studio Lam are now a regular fixture on the DJ scene. These clubs combine DJ nights with live music gigs. Obviously, lockdown led to the closure of some clubs and the scene has not yet fully recovered from the social and economic disturbances caused by Covid.

Local roots

Another exciting development is the emergence of local roots bands that actively seek to work with musicians from other countries and cultures. You can see this in the new molam bands that are experimenting with different sounds, led by Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band. The band also pioneered touring Europe to take their music to new audiences.

In recent columns I have written about bands like E-San Fusion who mix molam and funk, or Rasmee, who adds jazz and rock to her blend of molam and kantrum. Reggae band Lamai Hansa also mix reggae with elements from molam. These are just a few examples of an exciting trend that is set to continue and hopefully blossom in the coming years.

Section 1: Write the correct answer in the space provided.
1. Where can you buy luk thung compilations? …………….
2. How old is the writer’s father? …………….
3. Which record store was open in Bangkok in 1994? …………….
4. Which club mixes DJ night and live bands? …………….
5. Which band has played in Europe? …………..
6. Who mixes molam and jazz? …………….

Section 2: Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.
To …7… 30 years of World Beat, I …8… to hold a DJ night at Studio Lam in the next few months to showcase some of the great music that has appeared in the column. Today, there is a lot of …9… in music from far-flung places in Thailand from both music fans and musicians, which is in …10… to the situation back in the early 1990s.

7. A. celebrate         B. celebrated                           C. celebration
8. A. will   B. can                      C. plan
9 A. interested         B. interest                C. interesting
10. A. different         B. contrast              C. opposite

Section 3: Find words that match the following definitions.
11. made copies of illegally ……………
12. when something old becomes popular again ……………
13. the origins of a style or culture ……………
14. to develop …………

Answers: 1. Klong Thom Market. 2. 95. 3. Tower Records. 4. Studio Lam. 5. Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band. 6. Rasmee. 7. A. 8. C. 9. B. 10. B. 11. pirated. 12. revival. 13. roots.       14. blossom.

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