His Majesty the King's accomplishments in music
are well known, not only to his Thai subject, but also to lovers of music
worldwide. He is one of Thailand's best jazz musicians. He has composed
43 musical works which rank among the most well known in the history of
Thai contemporary music. He has shared his musical interests with varied
groups of musicians and member of the general public. His achievements
in music have been internationally recognized, and has been presented with
the highest accolades both in Thailand and abroad.
His Majesty's musical training started while
he was a schoolboy in Switzerland. He attended lessons in classical music
and musical notation for two years. His interest in jazz developed during
this early period. He studied the works of famous jazz musicans comparing
their divers styles of musical expression. He soon played along with recordings
of Sidney Bechet's soprano saxophone,Johny Hodges' alto saxophone and
Duke Ellington's piano music.
Music occupid much of His Majesty's spare time.
He played music with amateur musicians wherever he went. Formalities were
waived during these sessions. Music became a medium for close friendship,
forging ties between the Monarch and his subjects.
His Majesty's favourite instruments are the saxophone,
clarinet and trumpet. He also plays the guitar and the piano. He is able
and willing to join in with any musical group of orchestra. In jazz, he
enjoys playing both annotated musical arrangements and impromptu session:
he is very good at also improvisation. In 1960, in New York, he played
the saxophone and clarinet with world renown musicians such as Benny Goodman,
Jack Teagarden, Lionel Hampton and Stan Getz. All agreed that His Majesty
was a highly gifted exponent of jazz.
His favourite music is 'Dixieland' jazz with
its fast, rousing rhythms and freedom for musical expression. An early jazz
band which he had founded consisted of close relatives, senior members
of the royal family. The 'Lai Khram' jazz band held many fun filled sessions
which occasionally lasted until the light of dawn.
At the number of band members grew, he founded
the 'Aw Saw' Band, and , in 1952, he set up a broadcasting station named
'Radio Aw Saw' within the palace grounds. For the next 20 years, before
the popularity of television, 'Aw Saw' played big band music regularly
each Friday. The programme known as 'Aw Saw Wan Suk' were broadcast live
to the general audience. Requests for musical numbers were accepted by
telephone, and often, it was His Majesty who answered the telephone calls.
Another regular presentation of the 'Aw Saw'
Band were concerts at university auditoriums. For more than 10 years, these
private and informal sessions were enjoyed with pride by the students and
faculty members. Subsequently, the concert had to cease due to the increase
in other royal activities. Nevertheless, His Majesty maintained close ties
with his subjects by inviting musical bands and orchestras of various official
and private instituitions to perform on 'Radio Aw Saw'. This has generated
an increase in musical interest, and has encouraged much improvement on
musical skill. One regular contributor to this programme during the past
20 years is the band of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. His Majesty
often visited the band to give advice to band members. Some of these musicians
have been successful in their military careers. Several have been promoted to
the rank of General of the Royal Thai Army.
His Majesty's role as music teacher may be seen
in the musical band which he founded in 1986. The 'Sahai Pattana' Brass
Band has Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as its first
member and consist of a number of officials in his personal service for
rural development. There are agriculturists, volunteer doctors, court officials,
aides, security officers, etc. Most had no previous musical training. His
Majesty spends a short priod each evening teaching music. The band has performed
on special occasions, but more important is the fact that unity and friendship
amongst the rural development workers have been create through music.
His Majesty the King composed his first song
"Candle Light Blues" in 1946. During the next 20 years, he composed
40 more. The total number of compositions to date is 43. The majority of
these are songs for which he composed the music. His own lyrics and those
by other song writers followed. Five of them have His Majesty's original
lyrics in English. The music of 2 songs were composed based upon the inspiration
from lyrics which had been previously written. There is also a ballet suite
known as the 'Kinari Suite'.
His Majesty's early compositions were mostly
of the 'blues' style using the chromatic musical scale. He developed complex
chords and rhythms which made possible varied arrangments for orchestral
presentation. This , in turn, has made several of his songs great favourites
even to the present. He later exploded the use of the pentatonic scale
for simplification. He composed theme songs for Chulalongkorn, Thammasart
and Kasetsart Universities, all of which have become great favourites of
each university. He also took care to match musical sounds to the rising
and falling tones of the Thai language not wishing to discolour the aesthetics
of a tonic language.
His Majesty the King's musical accomplishments
bacame known worldwide when, on a state visit to Austria in 1964, the
'Nieder Osterreich Tonkunstler' performed a concert of serveral of his
compositions in the Vienna Concert Hall. This concert was broadcast on Austrian
Radio to the delight of European audiences. Two days later, the 5th. of
October, 1964, 'Die Akademic fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Wien'
elected him an Honorary Member. His Majesty is the 21st. Honorary Member
of this famous institute and the first Asian composer to be thus honoured.
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