Saowapa Pornsiripongse, Anan Soplerk

Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University.

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Kantrum : The Status of Folk Music Education within the Thai-Khmer Cultural Zone


Kantrum, Thai-Khmer folk music written in Khmer language, is very popular within the Thai-Khmer cultural zone in the northeast of Thailand, namely in Burirum, Surin and Srisaket provinces. Because of the influence of western and commercial music on the back of globalization, Kantrum has gradually become less important to the Thai-Khmer way of life. Many Kantrum songs and rhythms were played without identification which is the cause of the loss. The way to rebuild recognition of these songs is to recover their names and include them as part of the formal education curriculum.

This article aims to survey the situation of folk music at all levels of the formal education system; primary, secondary and higher within the Thai-Khmer cultural zone and to recover and identify Kantrum rhythms and names of songs regularly recorded and sung, using focus group discussion methodology. Many well known Kantrum singers, musicians, composers, and Kantrum radio announcers were invited to brainstorm and discover the original names. They were then classified into three levels, from simple to complex. The result found that only 49 schools or 1.71% of the 2,856 schools within Thai-Khmer cultural zone have even taught folk music and only 22.68 % of these, Kantrum- Thai-Laos folk music known as Ponglang is the most commonly taught genre. Of the schools in the Thai-Khmer cultural zone, 50 % are in Surin where Thai-Khmer culture is strongest and Kantrum is taught. The next phase of the research is to try out these classified songs at all school levels in Surin to determine which schools or universities wish to become involved in the project.