Sounds of Lisu Music to New Music for Guitar and String Quartet


  • Suppabhorn Suwanpakdee School of Music, Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music 2010, Arun Amarin 36, Bang Yi Khan, Bang Phlat, Bangkok, Thailand



chamber music, composition, cross-culture in music, hill tribe music, performance


The chamber work Mood, scored for Guitar and String Quartet, was inspired by my fieldwork in Pang Ma Pha, Mae Hong Son province in the Northern part of Thailand. I worked with the musician guru Fu Deua who taught me about folk music of the Lisu, the hill tribe. I decided to adapt this music for a Western ensemble to connect a new audience with this little-known musical culture. Mood uses standard string techniques such as plucking and strumming to imitate the sounds of the Sue-bue, a Lisu three-stringed instrument. My compositional process was an exploration of the integration of musical traditions. Through the sound of Western Instruments and the procedures of development, variation, and improvisation, Mood expresses and transforms the original musical idiom it borrows from the Lisu’s tune. This paper describes the process behind Mood, both regarding its underlying philosophy and the compositional procedures I used. Besides, I discuss how Mood relates to other forms of dance music within the Western classical tradition, all of which involve similar integrations of folk and classical music elements.


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How to Cite

Suwanpakdee, S. (2018). Sounds of Lisu Music to New Music for Guitar and String Quartet. Malaysian Journal of Music, 7, 159–179.

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