Different from boxing, Muay Thai cannot be separated with music that accompanies the whole match. It is as if the fighters are dancing along with the music that is being played at the side of the ring.
Muay Thai music ensemble is made out of the pi, cing, and glawng khaek instruments. Pi is a aero instrument with palm leaf as a reed, which is responsible for melody. By organology, the pi is the same type as slumpret, oboe, or shehnai from India, and other instruments with double reed. The melody then merge with the percussion of glawng khaek which has a lower frequency, and makes the both audible in harmony.
Glawng Khaek is a drum instrument with leather membrane in each side with a body made out of wood. An ensemble usually consists of two glawng khaek, one is bigger than the other. The two glawng khaek are played simultaneously creating a complex beat. The presence of drums pair in traditional music is common, for example is the Lanang and Wadon in Bali. The third instrument in the ensemble is ching, a small cymbal with a lighter tone than the other two instruments. The sound of ching gives accent to the sounds from pi and glawng khaek.
In the arena, the music from ensemble merge with the loud screams of the crowd. On the other hand, the two fighters are focused in the fight. All these sounds felt so Muay Tai and Thailand. I recorded this from the Muay Thai championship held at the MBK Centre, at the shopping centre in Bangkok. Different from the recording from the Channel 7 stadium which was indoors, this championship was held outdoors making the sound clearer and had no echo. The sound of pi, ching, and glawng khaek is amplified with sound system.
Hearing the playback also made my adrenaline rise, and brought back memories of a fight in the land of white elephant.