I am a Molam Singer

My fiane is currently finishing her doctorate at Osaka University in the field of linguistics, which we both studied at Tenri University. She is writing her dissertation about Molam (alternatively spelled, “Morlum,” or, “Mawlum”) which is a traditional form of Northeast Thai singing, originally from Laos. I’ve been translating excerpts and summaries into English (from Japanese) for her along the way, and have really gotten interested in the actual music while looking for what’s available online for her.
I discovered that most interesting aspect of this music for me is that it sounds a lot like rap! It’s hard to explain? But there are definitely some similarities in the verse and song structure there. And while turning on some of the Molam grooves today to get in the mood for another translation Nam asked me to do, I decided to learn a freestyle verse that sounds particularly hip-hop?
I’ve been working on Nam’s translation for four hours now, and I’ve only done two lines, mainly because I’ve been trying to memorize this one particular Molam verse and it’s driving me crazy:
Soi Soi / lao phi nong fang Soi /
Phen bo khao baan phen / go tang khao baan to /
So baan to / go tang to baan phen /
Jang bo khao baan phen / go tang khao baan to /
Pro waa roa yuu khon la baan

I’m doing some serious tongue-twisting here. Knowing quite well that I sound like a retarded campuchean goat while practicing this out loud, I pretend not to hear Nam yelling at me to stop in the background. I WILL get this down. Because I am destined to be the King of Thai Country Groove.
More later, if Nam doesn’t kill me.

10 thoughts on “I am a Molam Singer

  1. Hey, that’s interesting. Yukiko’s finishing her doctorate in Nevada in psychology, and she’s doing her dissertation on second language acquisition.

  2. My favorite Thai song is a classical music called :”Krangkao kin kluay”which means “bats eat bananas” and it’s not even a joke. It goes like this:
    tada ta da tada ta da tada tadadadadadada. Better find it on internet to get an idea I guess…
    If you ever find it on internet, please leave a message on my blog!

  3. I can manage to go around the kansai area…
    Just need to figure out where is the kansai area!
    Let me know about your plan.

  4. Hello Justin,
    My name is Prayut Wannaudom.I’m a Ph.d candidate of Chulalongkorn University,Thailand.I have read your post bychance while I was using Google to search the word Mawlum.Now,I’m writing my dissertation about Mawlum like your friend,Nam? I read your post about Soi, that’s funny and it made me surprise that you can sound that verse.Would you pls let your friend,Nam know about me.I would like to discuss with her about her dissertation,for me,my title is “The Role and influences of Culture Industry upon Mawlum”. I study Mawlum through the theory of Walter Benjamin n Theodor Adorno.My e3mail is prayutloei@yahoo.com
    Thank you very much.

  5. Do you have another E Sarn Song with your singing
    and I can here your voice and nam.
    You have very good memory with nam so keep go on
    your guy are lucky couple na ka ja book hai.

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