thai ramwong: an asian drum and its possible uses in world music


music for ramwong

education music percussion rhythms

world international fusion drumming

Bongógo - an indigenous rhythm played on 3 thai ramwong drums or other available drums with one hand and one stick

Bongógo is not a traditional ramwong rhythm, but is simply based on inherent possibilities of the instrument.

If anyone has a link to information about the traditional Thai uses of the Ramwong drum, please write stu at rhythmweb .com

I can no longer find these drums on the Meinl website, so I suppose Ramwong are now a rare item. If anyone knows where to obtain these drums as of 2004, please write to stu at rhythmweb.com


Ramwong Drums

2003 - In our never ending search for lightweight portable percussion instruments, we came across these Ramwong drums in the Meinl Catalog. No one was rushing to the store for these little babies, since the world at large knew very little about them. We searched the Web, & found nothing, other than that they are used in Thai Ramwong music, of which we could find no decent examples (none with a drum part audible, anyway).

Still, with well sewn calf and thick bulbous solid wood shells, they are brimming with potential, so what the heck...we bought some. Both drums together were less than $100, and they are very very portable. We began to experiment.

So far we like playing them with one hand and one stick. They are not unlike the Ghanian barrel drums, similar to the drums used in Candombe, but with solid shells, and smaller. The shells are quite thick, and the response is good to anything from a chopstick to a clave.

To give you an idea of what these Ramwong sound like, we recorded a rhythm we named Bongogo, based on an ostinado by the lowest Ramwong. For this recording, we used a clave, with one big and two small Ramwong parts, one on each end. This gave us the three distinct voices. We used a $30 LabTec Microphone from the computer store, and recorded right into our standard sound card..

Listen to the Ramwong - Bongogo.mp3

x = stick on the wood rim
o = stick on the open head
L = left hand touches the head, stopping it from ringing

it would be easy to further develop this rhythm by exploring the possibility of having a smaller drum do the ostinado as the bigger one improvises. We could even design a series of signals designed to pass the ostinado back and forth amongst the three players. When that is recorded, we will post it.

big ramwong part:

o.Lx.oo. o.Lx.oo. o.Loo.Lo o.Lx.oo.

small ramwong bigger head part: improvised, loosely based on

x.oo.xx. x.oo.xx. or

x.oo.x.x x.oo.x.x

small ramwong smaller head part: improvised loosely around

x..x.x.x x.o.oo..
(these open tones inspired the name: "bon-gogo"

then as the rhtyhm thickens and begins to cook:

x.x.oo.x x.x.oo.x or

x...oo.x .oo.oo..


The ramwong drums are handy for a drum circle, or outside in a strolling situation, or even under a tree on a lazy day.

They fit into their own sonic space, not unlike congas, but up above normal conga pitch ranges, and they blend well with each other and with other drums.

Experimentation continues.

The rhythm Bongógo has also been adapted for 1 water bottle and 2 coffee cans. Listen

More on this soon..




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