Transmitting Traditional Lanna Music in the Modern-Day City of Chiang Mai

Joel Akins




Traditional Lanna music is enjoying a renewal, centered on the city of Chiang Mai. How has this come about and how is it being sustained? What does all this activity mean for the music itself?


This article addresses the first question by providing a detailed record of the different ways traditional Lanna music is (and has been) passed on in the city of Chiang Mai. This is based primarily on interviews and observations with teachers, students, artists and other professionals involved with Lanna music transmission through formal education, informal instruction and technological developments.


Addressing the second question above means analyzing the relationship between ways of transmission and changing styles of traditional music in Chiang Mai. This article presents a critical analysis of both historical and present musical activities, as well as a comparison of perspectives on musical change in the North in order to show how the expansion of musical transmission in Chiang Mai has worked in tandem with the increase in variety of Lanna musical styles in recent times.


(Published in Rian Thai: International Journal of Thai Studies, Volume 6/2013, Page 63-97)


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