The khen panpipe of the Thai people is played at Thai community events, festivals, competitions and performances. The panpipe is a popular musical instrument created by the Thai ethnic minority people in Yen Chau, Son La. Together with the gong, the Tinh musical instrument, flute and strings, the panpipe remains popular among the Thai.
To produce its beautiful sound, panpipe players need to understand the instrument’s characteristics and learn by heart its melodies and accompanying songs as well as the voices of the singers.
The process of making a panpipe is as effort-consuming as that to create any masterpiece of art. Not everyone can make it properly. Making a panpipe requires skills, precision, and effort. The panpipe is an inseparable part of our lives. We play it when we are working and it makes us feel comfortable.
To make panpipe, it’s important to select the right bamboo and materials. Everyone always choose may pao, a wild bamboo of the forest, to make a panpipe. The bamboo must come from a dry area because those in wet areas can easily wither. After that they hang the bamboo for a month to ensure that they are completely dry. They then cut them to make the pipe. Meanwhile, the box of the instrument is made from a special kind of wood called maymu which is durable. The reed is made of grass or silver and is as small as a hair. It usually takes us a day to make a panpipe.
Thai panpipe is a masterpiece of art which combines natural materials and the player’s love for the homeland. Despite changes taking place everyday, the panpipe maintains its important role in the lives of the Thai people.
Especially, the life of ethnic people is closely connected to the pan-pipe crafted from six bamboo tubes and a wooden gourd. This musical instrument plays an important role in their spiritual life. Previously, it was used to invoke the spirits of the dead to guide them to their forefathers and relatives. However, it is now used at festivals and other traditional events and especially men play it to express love to girls.
The pan-pipe is considered a cultural symbol of the ethnic group as artists can use it to create a wide range of melodious tones.