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Moh Lam

Moh Lam Khlon, Moh Lam Moo

Traditional Isan style singing


The Moh Lam performance is always accompanied by Moh khaen (in the background).
(c) ONCC

Moh Lam is traditional Isan folk singing accompanied by musical rhythms and melodies produced by Moh Khaen (Khaen is a home-made bamboo wind instrument).

Reasons for selection

Moh Lam is a popular folk performance in Northeastern Thailand. This performance is regarded as one of cultural symbols of Northeastern (Isan)region.

Area where performed

Northeastern (Isan)part of Thailand

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

The Moh Lam is a popular form of folk performance, well-known in Northeastern (Isan)Thailand, whose story-telling is accompanied by rhythmic and melodious music.

The word moh generally means specialist or expert; lam may refer to those stories and tales inscribed or written on the surface of a bamboo trunk or refer to a type of folk or traditional song using a special technique and style of singing.

The verse of each song contains words, rhyming with others from beginning to end. The Moh Lam in this context is a native musician using a certain kind of home-made bamboo wind instrument ( khaen )in his performance. Along with the song, there are different musical rhythms and melodies produced mostly by the moh khaen, who choose a melody suitable to the story being told.

Two general types of Moh Lam may be noted: the Moh Lam Khlon and the Moh Lam Moo. The Moh Lam is sometimes classified according to the melody used.

A Moh Lam troupe is always invited to perform for well-to-do families and for community affairs, for the Moh Lam never fails to attract people to come together for certain celebrations and festivities.

The Moh Lam is traditionally presented to the audience in an open air performance where it can be viewed from all vantage points. The structure of the performance can be adjusted to suit the occasion, place, and size of the audience.

The origin of the Moh Lam is unknown. It is believed that it was created and developed within the Isan culture in the Northeast. The performance of the Moh Lam has spread throughout the Northeastern, Northern, and certain areas of the Central region, wherever the Isan people have migrated and settled down.

Publication and textual documentation

ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information, ed.
1986 The Cultural Traditional Media.
In English.

ONCC and Fine Arts Department, ed.
1999 Thai Performing Arts.
Bangkok. In Thai.

CHONPAIROT, Jarernchai
2003, ASEAN Composers Forum on Traditional Music, ‘The Music of Northeastern Thailand (p.250-256, 260-265). Bangkok: ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information. In English

Audio documentation

Cassette tape

Visual documentation

Video tape

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Ministry of Culture
Somdej Phra Pin Klao Road, Bangplad, Bangkok 10700, Thailand, Tel: 66-2248-5850, Fax: 66-2248-5841

Office of the National Culture Commission
Ratchadapisek Road, Huay Kwang, Bangkok 10310, Thailand
Tel : 66-2247-0013, Fax : 66-2248-5840

Data provider

Ms. Sudhasinee Vajrabul
Director, External Cultural Relations Division
The Office of the National Culture Commission
Address: 4 Ratchadaphisek Road, Huay-Khwang, Bangkok 10320, Thailand

(Revised in July 2004)
Ms. Darunee Thamapodol
External Relations Division, Ministry of Culture
4th Floor, ONCC Bldg., Ratchadapisek Road, Huay Kwang, Bangkok 10310, Thailand