Home : Pong Lang Thai Music
Instrumental Music of Northeast Thailand
In 1947, Mr. Pleung learned the way of making and playing Grolor from Mr. Khan. The first playing method (Lai) he learned was Lai Phu Thai Yai or Lai Arn Nang Seu Yai. Moreover, he was the first one, who played Grolor in a village. In the first year of performances, it did not satisfy the audiences, but his performances of Grolor playing got better in 2 years later. Finally, the villagers or audiences accepted that he performed well.
In 1957, Mr. Pleung evolved Grolor by using Makhad or Mahad wood, which is hard wood, instead of previously used Makleum wood. This type of wood would not be swollen easily when it get hit, especially, if acquire this type of wood when it is lifeless that could generate resonant sound. This type of wood, which wad evolved by Mr. Pleung, was recommended by a monk, who used this type of wood to be a clapper for alerting.
Afterwards, Mr. Pleung invented 12-wooden bar Grolor instead of 9-wooden bar Grolor, and after trying to hit and play, the sound was great.
Therefore, in 1959, another one of wooden bar was added to be 13-wooden bar Grolor and enhanced from 5 tones to be 6 tones namely Do Re Me Fa Sol La (the sound Ce in northeastern folk songs not appear so that this sound was not added). Besides, new playing methods (Lai) were added consisting of Lai Arn Nang Seu Yai, Lai Arn Nang Seu Noi, Lai Sud Sa Nan, Lai Soi. Afterwards, the word “Grolor” was changed into “Phonglang” and this type of music is called “Phonglang” at present.
In 1962, Mr. Pleung, who is interested in Phonglang or Grolor and dedicated his life to learn it since he was 14 – playing outside and inside a village, performing in various festivals (mostly be solo performances); had an idea that Thai northeastern musical instruments consist of a wide variety of instruments so that if each instrument is played together as a band, its sound would be more beautiful and great fun. Therefore, he formed a band by using fiddles, lutes, northeastern Thai mouth organs, drums, Makgabgap, and earthen jars to play together and attracted attention of audiences very much.
In 1968, Mr. Pleung met Mr. Prachum Intaratoon, an officer of Forest Department, at Meung District, Galasin Province. Mr. Prachum gave him support and the new band was established under the name “Phonglang Galasin Band”. Besides various musical instruments, it also contained Thai classical dances – at the moment had Phonglang Dance, Suaymeu Dance, and Phuthai. Phonglang Galasin has been popular all the time and its performances were also copied to sell for interested audiences as well. Mr. Pleung worked and moved to many places for publicizing and training with regard to Phonglang and northeastern folk music to interested people. He also formed Phonglang Band in the place he worked. Especially, Mr. Pleung has conducted and trained Phonglang Galasin Band by himself until this band is notable and widely popular. The band also had a chance to perform on Channel 5 Khongan and in the Celebration of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen Birthday hold at Bangtalad District, Galasin Province.
Besides the band showed in several mass media, Phonglang Band also had a chance to perform at Jidrada Garden, Lawoh Palace, Saranrom Palace, Amphorn Garden as well as major provinces such as Chiang Mai, Surat Thanee, Ancient City in Samutprakan. Previously, Mr. Pleung had a chance to show his band and perform for welcoming His Excellency Field Marshal Sarid Thanarad on the occasion of visiting Phra Yod Meung Khang Camp in Nakorn Pranom Province.
Although Phonlang, a musical instrument developed by Mr. Pleung, does not have long ages in comparison with other northeastern folk instruments such as northeastern Thai mouth organ, lute, or fiddle; it can generate beautiful and resonant sounds and make us fell the northeastern folk life virtually that’s why Phonglang becomes popular and widely acceptable. Because of this, it was selected to be an instrument mixed up together with movies or drama songs, especially, in “Khanlamkhong” and “Phandinmae”, which Mr. Pleung played Phonglang for these 2 movies by himself.
Besides well-known reputation in Thailand, in 1973, Mr. Pleung – with the lead of Lieutenant Wirad Phongsawad – went abroad as tourists, however, Mr. Pleung did not forget to take Phonglang performance to show in Malaysia, Singapore, Iran, and Greece that made Phonglang more notable and be cultural media quite well. Furthermore, Swiss and American audiences – after listening to Phonglang – were interested in and also brought Phonlang to their countries.
Mr. Pleung had a duty to teach northeastern folk music to students in Galasin Classical Dance College and joined hands with Galasin Cultural Center to preserve, publicize, and develop such northeastern cultural heritage by organizing northeastern folk songs training, Phonglang contests, and on-the-road cultural shows. Moreover, in cooperation with the director of Galasin Classical Dance College, the college’s Phonglang Band was founded and publicized to other provinces such as Pissanuloke, Nakornsawan, Chiang Mai, Suradthanee, and had a chance to show in India as well.
At present, Mr. Pleung is a temporary employee at Galasin Classical Dance College teaching northeastern folk music and musical instruments such as lute, fiddle, northeastern Thai mouth organ, Phonglang, Whode, and so on to classical dance students as well as conducting Galasin Classical Dance College’s Phonglang Band. Mr. Pleung Chairadsamee is a real musician of northeastern folk music. He is very skillful and talented because he is able to teach and play almost every kind of northeastern folk music and instrument such as lute, northeastern Thai mouth organ, fiddle, Phonglang and others, especially Phonglang that he can teach and play very well.
The most important thing is that Mr. Pleung Chairadsamee has learned, searched, improved and developed “Phonglang” all over 40 years making “Grolor” – only for chasing birds and crows- be the well-developed Phonglang, which is a distinctive musical instrument of the Northeast played next to northeastern Thai mouth organ (Khan), which previously existed. Mr. Pleung Chairadsamee should be praised as “National Artist” in a field of Folk Performance Art virtually.