A Contribution to the Ethnomusicology of Trang Musical Instruments Collected by American Naturalist William Louis Abbott in 1896

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Paul Michael Taylor


This article presents information about Trang in southern Thailand from two trips there by the American naturalist William Louis Abbott (1860-1936), focusing on twelve locally used musical instruments Abbott collected in 1896 on his first visit. A second visit (late December 1898 to March 1899) provided another opportunity for him to record observations. The musical instruments he collected are now in the Ethnology collection (Department of Anthropology) of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. The information presented here adds to the relatively few 19th-century primary sources for the ethnography and music of southern Thailand. This article also notes similarities between some of these village instruments and the elaborately decorated but structurally similar ones produced under royal patronage for the Thai court, represented within the same Smithsonian collection by other musical instruments received as royal gifts from Thai monarchs.

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