For those accustomed to the welcome strains of harp or piano when walking into a hotel, the high-pitched notes that haunt the lobby of the Dusit Thani in Abu Dhabi catch you by surprise. I am always amazed by the dexterity of Kim, the pretty Thai musician who plays both the ‘Saw duang’ and the ‘Khim’ in the hotel foyer.
Thai musical instruments used in the traditional and classical Thai music comprise a wide range of wind, string, and percussion instruments played by both the Thai’s as well as the many ethnic minorities.
They are traditionally classified by the action used in playing:
The ‘Saw duang’ is a bowed high two-string fiddle with a hardwood body while the ‘Khim’ is a hammered dulcimer in the struck range of instruments. The two instruments are common to central Thailand and can trace their origins back to the time when the trade routes from Persia, Greece, Rome and Africa to India and China criss-crosse the region.
Both the instruments are integral to the ‘Khrueang Sai’ – an orchestral set up that combines wind instruments with an expanded string section and some percussions.
It is a pleasure to watch Kim decked in her traditional attire play both the instruments and it is certainly a soothing balm after walking through the busy streets.