A Wooden Clappers in the Music Culture of The Mekong River Region

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Noppon Chaiyason
Surapol Nesusin
Khomkrich Karin


             This research was aimed to: 1) Study historical evidence and records relating to wooden clappers, 2) Identify the roles of wooden clappers in The Mekong River region, and 3) Study musical straits of wooden clappers in the music culture in the Mekong River Region. This qualitative research was in compliance with the musicology discipline. The field information and reviewing of related documents were used primarily as a means of data collection. The research stretched across the cultural homogeneous counties in the Mekong River Region including Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

            Wooden clappers were found to have a long history of origin as proven by many historical pieces of evidence and records. One of the most outstanding ancient artifacts depicting the origin of the instrument was a cement sculpture from Dvaravati, which was built somewhere between the 13-14th B.E. This ancient artwork shows the time at which wooden clappers have been deployed in musical culture in the region. At present, the wooden clappers exploited in the countries around the Mekong River region still share a lot of identities such as the similarities in physical structure, playing method, rhythm, melody, expression, and songs. The similarities in these areas should be a result of the social, cultural and geographical contacts of the countries in the region. Three types of wooden clappers were observed; 1) tapping clappers, 2) paired clappers, and 3) bell clappers. All of these clappers are used mainly for beat controlling, singing, and performing. Clappers are also used in some rituals, especially in the royal ceremony, as a beat controller. Wooden clappers are used by local music bands that are a common source of entertainment for the local community’s festive ceremonies. Wooden clappers have become less popular and may soon totally disappear in Laos and Cambodia. Amidst cultural diversities in the region, the presence of wooden clappers is evidence of the region’s shared-cultural roots. Wooden clappers should be maintained as valuable local wisdom that lasts alongside the presence of the community. 

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Chaiyason, N., Nesusin, S., & Karin, K. (2020). A Wooden Clappers in the Music Culture of The Mekong River Region. Journal of Cultural Approach, 21(39), 17–32. Retrieved from https://so02.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/cultural_approach/article/view/240311
Research Article


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