The traditional music of Thailand has its origins from China and India and has historical influences from Persia, Indonesia, Greece and Africa. The music style started to flourish from the year 1350 onwards. Thai music is still evolving and in the 20th century, Western style music was introduced to Thailand which slowly became more popular than the traditional music. Modern-day Thai music consists mainly out of Pop Music.

Despite the change in music style, the traditional music is still seen as an important aspect of Thai culture and the Thai government has started several programs to preserve the cultural heritage. Traditional Thai music is still played at Royal and religious ceremonies.

The Chakhe

The name of this instrument means “crocodile” because of its peculiar shape. This string instrument is about 130-140 cm long and placed flat on the floor for convenience. The strings are plucked with a plectrum made from ivory or water buffalo horn, which is tied to the player’s index finger.

Saw Sam Sai

The Saw Sam Sai is a bow instrument with three strings and has a sharp high tone. The instrument is often played solo.


This percussion instrument has 21 or 22 wooden bars suspended over a boat shaped resonator. The instrument is played with two mallets and is used to play the main melody.

Khong Wong Yai

This is another instrument to play the main melody. The instrument has 16 kattles and is played with two mallets. There is also the smaller version, Gong Wong Lek which has a higher pitch.

Klong Khaek

The Klong khaek is a drum which is played with the hands. There are two types of klong khaek: klong khaek tua phu (which is considered to be male) and klong khaek tua mia (female). They are always played in a pair, usually by two players, although if two players are not available a single player may play both drums.

Klong Thap

This small goblet shaped drum is played by striking it with the hand and used to provide rythm.


The khim is made of wood, with brass strings that are laid across the instrument. There are 14 groups of strings on the khim, and each group has 3 strings. Overall, the khim has a total of 42 strings. It is played with two flexible bamboo sticks with soft leather at the tips to produce the soft tone. It is used as both a solo and ensemble instrument. Tuning this instrument is very easy but time consuming. The khim produces a bright and expressive sound when played.

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