Whenever you watch a Muay Thai bout in Thailand, you will hear music being played throughout the bout. Have you ever wondered what that Muay Thai music is and why it is played?
Here’s a full explanation of Muay Thai music that goes over what it’s called and why it’s played. Also, going into the inner meaning of the song and the instruments used.
- What is Muay Thai Music Called?
- What Instruments Are Used?
- The Sequence of Muay Thai Music
- Where is Muay Thai Music Played
- Is Sarama Always Played by a Band?
- The Muay Thai Music Debate
- Is Muay Thai Music Distracting For Fighters?
- Is Muay Thai Music Played in Thai Boxing Gyms?
- The Modernization of Sarama
What is Muay Thai Music Called?
Muay Thai music has been part of the sport since it was created. This Muay Thai music is known as “Sarama” and was originally developed within the royal Thai court. In Thailand, they refer to Muay Thai music as “Phleng Pi Muay Thai.”
Sarama was music that was played at live events with a 4-man band present. Two drummers with finger symbols and two wooden flutes.
This band plays as the soundtrack for each fight. They start out slow during the prefight rituals and gradually play faster as the intensity of the fight increases.
What Instruments Are Used?
In Muay Thai music, the musicians use two types of instruments. They use a mix of wooden flutes and small drums that are called “pi chawas” and “wong chaks.” The drummers also use finger symbols called “chings.”
Musicians will use these instruments and play at a gradually high pace as the fight continues.
The Sequence of Muay Thai Music
The Sarama or Muay Thai music has a specific sequence the music goes through during Thai boxing bouts. Here is the sequence of Sarama and how it progresses throughout a fight.
Pre-fight Wai Kru
The Sarama band begins playing their instruments right before the fighters walk out. As they begin to play the music, the fighters begin to enter the ring.
Before the instructions for the fight are given, the fighters perform the Wai Kru dance. During the Wai Kru dance, the band keeps the rhythm going until the fighters finish their dance.
This ceremonial Muay Thai music is generally called “Pee Chawaa.” As the band plays this song as the fighters show respect for their teachers and the sport and invoke spirits.
The Rhythm Picks Up
A Muay Thai bout starts slow, and the pace slowly picks up as the action picks up. The band playing Muay Thai music will gradually pick up their playing rhythm as the intensity picks up.
They could play anywhere from a minute to over 20 minutes if a fight goes to a decision. Their music helps create more drama, and the fans get into the fights more as the intensity grows.
The band matches the intensity whenever a fight turns into a nonstop war. This Muay Thai music has a way of psychologically manipulating the crowd and even the fighters.
When the fighters hear this music, they will fight harder. Then in response to their intensity, the fans will match it and put all of their emotion into cheering the fighters on.
Where is Muay Thai Music Played
Muay Thai music, or Sarama, is generally only played if you attend a Thai boxing bout in Thailand. You rarely hear this music played at Muay Thai events held outside Thailand.
You may only hear this music at a Muay Thai gym when fighters are practicing the Wai kru. If you hear Sarama played outside of Thailand, it’s usually played on a recorded tape or file.
Is Sarama Always Played by a Band?
To keep the tradition alive, a band is almost always present in all Muay Thai events in Thailand. No matter if it’s a small show in the country or one of the big stadium shows. As mentioned above, a recording of the music is played if a band is not present for the event.
The Muay Thai Music Debate
When talking about Muay Thai music, there’s a constant debate that involves two sides. There are the traditionalists that love the music and the other side that hates it.
Traditionalists feel that Thai boxing bouts must have music to keep the tradition of the sport. Those who hate Muay Thai music think it’s a lot of distracting noise.
Is Muay Thai Music Distracting For Fighters?
A professional Thai boxer will not be distracted by the Muay Thai music played during their bout. They are trained to focus on their opponent and cancel out the noise around them. Some even love the music, and get them pumped as the pace of the fight picks up.
Is Muay Thai Music Played in Thai Boxing Gyms?
Some traditional Thai boxing gyms will play this music at their gyms during training sessions. This is to get their fighters in the mental state of fighting at the stadium in front of thousands.
Other Thai boxing gyms are more like Western boxing gyms. They play more modern music as a soundtrack to their training session.
The Modernization of Sarama
Today, there is great respect for Muay Thai music known as Sarama. In modern Thai hip-hop and techno music, you can hear the Sarama sampled and mixed into hip-hop beats.
This modernization of Sarama shows how the sport of Muay Thai is continually evolving. Not just as a sport, but also as a part of Thai and fight culture.
A martial artist and former coach for two decades from Houston, Texas. Specializing in the disciplines of kickboxing, karate, MMA, and Jiu Jitsu.