The Sound Source with the Sam Mo Lan Salakan orchestra
The latest episode of The Sound Source features a single mesmerising composition by the Sam Mo Lan Salakan orchestra about the life of refugees from Birma living in Thailand, the land of the three mists.
The orchestra plays music in the Shan or Thai Yai tradition with long narrative song texts accompanied by drums, gongs, cymbals and, surprisingly, a banjo and a Stroh violin. The Stroh violin was invented in 1900 by the German Johannes Stroh and has a horn instead of the violin body which both increases the sound produced by the instrument and allows it to be directed. It originated in the early days of music recordings when microphones and amplifiers were not yet available but was soon made obsolete and was forgotten by everyone except for Romanians and the Shan in Northern Birma. The loud metallic sound of the Stroh violin fitted in well with the local orchestral music and replaced the traditional vielle. For the same reasons the traditional lute was replaced by the banjo.
The Sound Source is a programme by Fred Gales.