Luk thung: The culture and politics of Thailand’s most popular music

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In this pioneering book, ethnomusicologist James Mitchell explores the many facets of luk thung through ethnographic research with singers, songwriters, fans, and other professionals. The groundbreaking final chapter refutes the widespread opinion that luk thung is an apolitical genre by examining its role in recent political turmoil and tracing currents of protest and sociopolitical commentary back to the music’s origins.

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Since the 1960s, the hybrid popular music called luk thung has embodied the aspirations, frustrations, and sorrows of Thailand’s working class. Global scholarship, however, has been slow in examining this seminal genre. In this pioneering book, ethnomusicologist James Mitchell explores the many facets of luk thung through ethnographic research with singers, songwriters, fans, and other professionals. The groundbreaking final chapter refutes the widespread opinion that luk thung is an apolitical genre by examining its role in recent political turmoil and tracing currents of protest and sociopolitical commentary back to the music’s origins. The book includes links to many songs online so that readers can hear for themselves the music that came to express the triumphs and hardships of everyday working Thais.