Muay Thai is still developing, but what remains unchanged is the use of the pipe and the drums as musical accompaniments for the matches, and is considered a unique characteristic of Muay Thai.
For dancing one may use a record player, but for thai boxing it is imperative to have live music. For the prefight rituals and during the fight itself the tempo of music is increased to encourage the fighters to put forth their best efforts. There are three Thai musical instruments for boxing.
Traditional Thai instruments used during and before the fights are the Pi, the Ching and the Glawng Khaek.
The Pi Chawa or Java Pipe, it is believed, owes its origin to India where the Javanese secured their model. It appears that the instrument was used in both Royal and Army processions and in accompanying the traditional Thai fencing bouts. The stirring sound which it makes is somewhat like the Chanta on Scotch Bag Pipes. The Pi Chawa is made in two sections; a cylindrical body 10 3/4 " in length and a bell or horn in 5 1/2 "long.It is made of hardwood or ivory or both. Along the body are seven finger holes. Four pieces of reed in double pairs are tied to a small metal tube. The end of the tube is inserted into the body of the instrument and wrapped with thread to make the connection sung. At rhis end of the tube there is also a small round convex piece of metal or coconut shell to support the performer’s lips.
At the apex of each there is a small hole through which a cord is passed. A knot at each end of the cord fits inside the apex of the cymbal and prevents the cord from slipping through. The cord fastens the two cymbals together and holds them in playing positions. The function of the Ching is to keep time and to beat out the rhythm.
The name Ching is onomatopoetic, coming from the sound made when the two edges of the cymbal are struck together and the sound is allowed to persist. It is a melodious and chiming sound. When the two cymbals are struck together and then held together, it is produces a dull clapping sound.
The Glawng Khaek
The Glawng Khaek has a long cylindrical body which is made of hardwood and is 58 cm. (23") in length. The heads are of unequal size, the larger being 20 cm. (8") in diameter called Na rui (literally "loose") and the smaller 18 cm. (7") in diameter called Na tan ("outer head"). The two heads are made of calfskin or goatskin. Originally the two heads were tied down with cane or rattan which was split in half and tied apart, but now owing to the difficulty obtaining good rattan and cane, leather tongs are usually used. The drums are used in pairs and are of different pitches. The higher toned drum is referred to as tua pu (male) and the lower toned drum as tua mia (female).
They are played with the palms and the fingers of the hands and both drumheads are used. There is one player for each drum. A complex rhythmic line is created by the inter-mingling and alternating of the sounds of the two drums.