In Laos Mor lam is Where it’s At

In its most traditional form, Mor lam, from the landlocked Southeast Asian nation of Laos and the Isan region of northeastern Thailand, is a kind of a bluesy improvised poetry song. The term translates loosely as “expert song,” referring to the “expert singer,” the vocalist who is singing. Mor lam singers will have a prescribed rhythm but make up a story as the song goes along. The words of these songs often border on the bawdy, focusing on themes of love — often unrequited — and addressing the challenges of Laotian life. We particularly enjoy the mor lam performed in this video. (Note the guys playing the Laotian “free reed” khenes.)


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