Mor lam (Thai/Isan: หมอลำ ) is a traditional Lao form of song in Laos and Isan. Mor lam means expert song, or expert singer, referring to the music or artist respectively. Other romanisations used include mo lam, maw lam, maw lum, moh lam and mhor lum. In Laos, the music is known simply as lam (ລຳ); mor lam (ໝໍລຳ) refers to the singer.
The characteristic feature of lam singing is the use of a flexible melody which is tailored to the tones of the words in the text. Traditionally, the tune was developed by the singer as an interpretation of glawn poems and accompanied primarily by the khene, a free reed mouth organ, but the modern form is most often composed and uses electrified instruments. Contemporary forms of the music are also characterised by quick tempi and rapid delivery, while tempi tend to be slower in traditional forms and in some Lao genres. Some consistent characteristics include strong rhythmic accompaniment, vocal leaps, and a conversational style of singing that can be compared to American rap.
Typically featuring a theme of unrequited love, mor lam also reflects the difficulties of life in rural Isan and Laos, leavened with wry humour. In its heartland, performances are an essential part of festivals and ceremonies, while the music has gained a profile outside its native regions thanks to the spread of migrant workers, for whom it remains an important cultural link with home.
Famous quotes containing the word mor:
“There is the illusion of time, which is very deep; who has disposed of it? Mor come to the conviction that what seems the succession of thought is only the distribution of wholes into causal series.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)