Tag Archives | Khene

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.)