Homrong Sakura
A Composition for the New Millennium - Click here to listen (mp3)

Homrong Sakura is a new composition I completed in May 1999. This composition is an example of a Thai musical overture, intending to express the good rapport and collaboration between Thailand and Japan during the Asian financial crisis. The main theme, is a melody chosen from one of the better known pieces in Japan, called Sakura, which is a traditional Japanese melody from 1888.

Homrong Sakura as arranged is full of color and variety.The first two parts, represent the activities of the Thai and Japanese when greeting, discussing and working with each other. The original melody in the center of the composition represents happiness and joy while they are singing and dancing together. The final section depicts how hard work and dedication are used to get things done on time. A sweet final coda displays the fulfillment, and achievement of their task with a relaxing expression. This article presents an analysis of the Homrong Sakura, as a new alternative way to develop a Thai musical composition.

A short description of Thai compositional methods will be described, followed by a description of Homrong Sakura itself. Finally, some suggestions regarding the trend of Thai music compositional style in the New Millennium will be made.

This paper is an example to display the human content in the musical circles of Thailand during the 'Civil Society.’ It reflects the current freedom of the Thai music composer in creating works according to their preference without any anxiety about legal implications. The limitation of all creative compositions have never been controlled by the Thai government except in 1940-41 when there were restrictions on the performance of Thai music. The Thai composers were not similarly restricted.

Thai Composing Method
Thai music compositional methods can be expressed in three ways: augmentation, diminution, and initiation.

1. Augmentation
It is the composing style which takes account of the original piece as the main melody to be augmented. (see example I)

Ex. 1:   | -1 - 2 | - 3 - 4 |  (original melody)

a:   | ---1 | ---2 | ---3 | ---4 |  (this melody is double the size of the original one above)

b:  | 1231 | 3232 | 2123 | 1234 |

There is an original melody, which the composer can use as a main theme, then he or she will augment it to show their own composition

It is shown that 1, 2, 3, and 4 can be augmented with or without adding more notes to decorate each main note (1,2,3,4), but it is necessary to augment the length to double that of the original. It can be said that the composer can make a variation from the main theme as she or he wants as long as the main melody 1,2,3,4 appears as a falling succession of notes (The core note will remain the original central structure of the main melody)

2. Diminution
This can be explained as the reverse from Ex. I

Ex. 2:  | 0001 | 0002 | 0003 | 0004 |

Diminution:   -1 - 2 | - 3 - 4 |

Diminution is used to half the length of the original composition.

3. Initiation
This style of composition allows the composer to freely initiate their own melody within the Thai compositional patterns.

The Thai compositional pattern takes a good period to time to be learned and it would consume far too much time to explain here. Therefore, It is decided, not to be presented in depth in this presentation. However, the "Homrong Sakura" as performed by the Mahidol University ensemble can be heard via the link above.

Description of Homrong Sakura

After coming back from England, I heard about the financial crisis in Thailand, which had, by then spread around the Asian region. I received the impression, that during the crisis, A large amount of Financial aid was offered to the Thai People from the Japanese Government. The purpose of the two aid packages, was to help in the further development Of Thailand. I was so impressed by this collaborative offer to maintain our financial status in Asia.That It inspired me to think of composing a piece, of music to express my pleasurable feelings for their very welcome assistance.

Musical form
In this composition, I have taken 'Sakura'-an old popular Japanese melody from 1888, as my main melody. Three of the parts are Thai versions as shown in part 1,2 and 5. The original theme has been put in the middle of the piece: part 3 and 4 (see chart below).

Part I (Thai)

Part II (Thai)

Part III (Original with soo daung solo)

Part IV (Original)

Part V (Thai)

A set of variations based on one theme can be outlined as:

A1  -  A2  -   A3  -   A4  -   A5  -  coda

Rhythmic Pattern
The rhythmic pattern is mostly controlled by the small, thick cymbals-ching. The sound produced by this instrument are ‘ching’, and ‘chap’. The symbol used for the ‘ching’ is o , and + for the’chap’. The responsibility of the cymbal is analogous to the job of a conductor. The regular ‘ching-chap’ continues throughout the piece. The ’ching’ stroke is equal to the up-beat while the’chap’ stroke falls on an important note. To accompany with the ching, the rhythmic pattern of the drums, called na thap, acts as the time-keeping instruments. In this composition, the na thap named ‘prob kai’ is applied.

Ching + Nathap prob kai
---+ | --- o | ---+ |  ---o |  ---+ |  --- o |  ---+ |  --- o |

---1 -2-3 -2-3 -2-3 -4-4 -545 -4-4 -545
key:  1= taring, 2= jo, 3= ja, 4= ting, 5= tum

Listening Outline
Part 1

----	---8	---9	8654	----4	--56	8898	-565
1s: (s= Sakura theme)
----	---4	---4	---5	----	---4	---4	---5
An augmentation is used in this part as seen in 1a and 1s. First variation, softly introduced by Ranaat Ek, a leading instrument of the ensemble, with largo movement in tremolo style.

The musical introduction, is intended to reflect an atmosphere of greeting, between the Japanese people, and the Thai, people. It will show the warmth and, humbleness, shared by our two nations.

-444	5656	-444	5656	-666	89-8	-6-5	-4-2
--55	6541	--55	4568	-55	6541	-6-9	86-5
Performing by the whole instrument, the tree-note motive appears three times in the first line, followed by the two-note motive in the second line. The melody is balanced and symmetrical.

-444	5656	-444	5656	-666	89-8	-6-5	-4-2
--65	4141	--85	4568	--65	4141	9865	----
First line is a repetition of the first line of 1b, but the second line is changed. Especially an unexpected pause is put at the end of this phrase to make it much different. This is because there is a repetition at the original theme in the same lines.

---4	4.454	---5	5.565	---8	8.898	---5	5.565
An identical melodic pattern is repeated 3 times.

The restriction of this phrase is to keep the exact notes being performed by the whole ensemble. Usually, this melodic pattern allows the performers to improvise their own lines, especially for the leading instrument. But for the reason of my own intention I decided to fix it to emphasize the unique melodic pattern which is hardly heard in general Thai composing styles.

--11	1112	--33	3334	--55	5556	5456	78-8
----	1	----	----	2	----	----	3
A single rhythmic motive short-short-short-short-short-long is performed three times. The repetition of four-note motive is a step higher accordingly. This is also unique because the whole ensemble must play together instead of the leading instruments which occasionally do in general composition.

As all of the instruments begin to play, the melody expresses some of the efforts being made to develop, and use wisely, a budget, in collaboration with Japan, to further the needs of both of our countries.

Part 2

-444	-444	2--1	-555	----	1245	6545	----
8888 6--9 8--6 -555 ---- 1245 6542 ----

-4-4	4.4-2	-4-4	4.4-5	----	8987	8765	----
-8-8 8.8-6 -8-8 8.8-5 ---- 8765 42-- ----

The opening section of the second part continues from the final coda of part one without a break. This appearance creates an enormous contrast of tempo. Tension and expectation are generated from the very beginning. Two pairs of dialoging phrases appear in the similar style. ie. with two bars paused in each line.

The difference at the end of line two, is a longer gap It is intended to provide resting time for the leading instrument to introduce the next phrase (2c).
(the numbers in bold represents the leading melody)

--42	4241	--65	6598	--42	4241	8685	----

The leading instruments start at the first dialogue analogized to an opening question. The following instruments perform different fragment follow up the identical leading melody.

---4.	-4-5	---6.	-6-5	---8.	-8-9	---8.	-8-5

‘Sweeping’ technique is applied four times by the whole percussion instruments.

--11	--22	--33	--44	--55	--66	5456	78.-8

The two-note motive is performed, alternatively with syncopation, by the leading and the following instruments from downward to upward scales. The excitement is suddenly interrupted by unexpected final tremolo note. It is intended to be a bridge from the rapid notes to the long sustained one in order to resolve the tension before starting a largo part afterwards.

This part represents the dynamic relationship which we hold with Japan, and the fusion of different cultures and idea's. There is a discussion going on during office hours.

Part 3
----	---4	---4	---5	----	---4	---4	---5
---- ---4 ---5 ---6 ---5 ---4 ---5 -4-2
---- ---8. ---6. ---8. ---9. ---8. ---6. ---5.
---- ---4 ---5 ---6 ---5 ---4 ---5 -4-2
---- ---8. ---6 ---8. ---9. ---8. ---6. ---5.
---- ---4 ---4 ---5 ---- ---4 ---4 ---5
---- ---1 ---2 ---5 -4-2 ---1 ---1 ---1

The original Sakura melody is displayed in this part, in order to show the main theme of the composition. It comprises of five melodic phrases. The two repetition pairs appear in line 2-5.

This main theme, has been intentionally adapted for performing on the Thai 2-string fiddler known as
Saw uu; instead of the usual Japanese Koto. The objective is to maintain the minor scale which is used in a traditional Japanese musical ensemble.

The fact is that, naturally, the Thai tune is in diatonic scale - seven full tone equidistance. As a result, the original Sakura melody, which is usually performed in minor scale on Japanese instruments cannot be played on Thai melodic percussion instruments.. Since the So oo is the only string in this ensemble therefore it is selected to play in solo style in minor scale as it is seen that there is no difficulty for the string to readily adjust its tune to suit any scale in the world.

In this opportunity, Sakura is performed by the potential Japanese musicians (Thai artist) trying to preserve the real mood and feeling of the original one.

The atmosphere of part 3 is that, after a short discussion, it is decided that the workers should take a break to relieve the build up of stress. A banquet has been arranged for them.It is time to rest and entertain. We are also introduced to the happy, and relaxed mood, that the workers now feel.

Part 4
----	---4	--44	--45	--55	--54	--44	--45
--55 --54 --45 --56 --65 --54 --45 --42
--22 --21 --16. --6.1 --12 --21 --16. --6.5.
--5.5. --5.4 --45 --56 --65 --54 --45 --42
--22 --21 --16. --6.1 --12 --21 --16. --6.5.

A sudden change of the rhythmic pattern from touching and sad mood in part 3 leads to staccato motive played loudly by the ensemble. It is of course, returning to Thai scale.The transposition can, in fact, be made to fit the type of the Thai musical ensemble at any key, depending on the limitation of the practicability of each instrumental group according to the Thai whole-tone scale as mentioned earlier.

My objective to change the rhythmic style based on the same theme is to make this part vivace to assist in involving the audience in the its dancing atmosphere.

----	---4	4444	4445	----	---4	4444	4445
This phrase is a ‘dynamic accent’ which allows the performer to play more loudly than the tones allow it.

----	---4	---5	---6	---5	---6	---7	---8
The speed of the rhythmic pattern is increased before getting into the final phrase. This is intended to express, that the workers are now keen to get back to work.

Part 5

--44	--55	--66	--55	--88	--77	--66	--55

The final part is started with a staccato style. The techniques of syncopation is used from the beginning.

---4	---7	---4	---2.	---6.	---7.	---1.	---2.
-4-- -5-- -6-- -7-- --45 67-- 4567 89-9
(the numbers in bold represents the leading melody)

Putting a small phrase of contrary motion in the second half of 5b is my intention to examine the musicians’ attitude. It is believed to be a guidance of the new composer to create something different from the old composing style.

----	----	----	----	---2.	---3.	---4	---5
9>>> >>>> ---- ---8* ---9 ---8 ---6 ---5

The tremolo technique is applied on Ranaat ek in 5c not only to show the contrasting line of the melody between the leading instrument- Ranaat ek and the other melodic percussion instruments, but also to emphasize the unique note at '*" while the other instruments are pausing.

Having tried that, the special note ‘*” has become problematic, because of its unusual beat against the pause of the other instruments in the background. It could mislead the whole ensemble to easily loose the down beat.

4.456	4.456	4.456	4.456	2888	6968	6968	6542
6564	5241	6564	5241	8685	----
Sudden change of texture contributes to the hectic mood. The movement becomes feverish. The persistence of this melodic pattern gives the music a sense of urgency. Yet the melody is symmetrical. Questioning downward leaps are answered by upward scales. Before ending the piece in A4.5, the fluttering technique is performed on Ranat ek as a highlight of this part before moving to the final coda.

In this, The final section, we have the people of two Nations, working together, and helping each other with a mutual trust. The aim is to finish the job in hand. The tempo increases again slightly. This shows the increased efforts being made to finish the work on time.

---4	4445	---4	4445	---8	8887	7776	6665
The theme is dominated by the five-note motive. The rapid rhythmic pattern increases the excitement with hectic atmosphere.

---8	---6	---5	---3	----	---2	----	---1
Leading to a different emotional effect, the final coda is expanded and made more dramatic to end the piece with happiness and fulfillment. This can be expressed that the achievement eventually is made possible by the cooperation of between Japan and Thailand.

When " Homrong Sakura" is seen as a whole, it is found that this style of composition is unique by its composing characteristics. It can be said that this piece is a new style of composition, which emphasizes the leading position of the Ranat ek performance. It is different from other compositions because the the operation of the instrumental Section has been strictly fixed by the composer's intention. Other compositions allow the performers to have freedom of improvisation in the piece.

The distinction of my composition, apart from mentioning the theoretical aspect, is the description accompanying each part. I would suggest to the composers, in the New Millenium to literally put their objective and meaning of each composition alongside their written notation. It could help the next generation to understand the imagination of the piece without having to guess. The benefit of knowing and understanding the composition, in both theory and meaning is essential. It can make the performer feel sure of their performing responsibilities, and can maintain the heart (essence) of the piece they are performing. It would be easier for the school teacher, or the lecturer in Universities to instruct, each composition in their classroom without feeling any uncertainty.

Apparently, it is seen that because of the lack of the description of the piece, we have to guess, and conduct the performance as we think it should be. We teach the analysis of Thai musical form by guessing and sometime making a wrong decision to illustrate the piece. If every composer was made aware of the importance of providing a description for each new piece and writing it as a documentary,would make the final analysis of form and performance, so much easier, than in the past. The results would be worth the extra effort.

Acknowledgements to two National Artists of Thailand:
Master Prasit Thavorn and Master Montree Tamote