Pi Java (Javanese Clarinet) originating from India, is generally referred to as Pi Kaek. It has been much changed and developed from the original version by the Javanese. This explains its rather distinct shape.
The Javanese use this instrument in ceremonies and the Javanese army uses it to boost the morale and enthusiasm of its soldiers. The sound is hauntingly appealing and unfailingly exciting. So the Thais have adopted it to accompany Thai boxing.
Javanese Clarinet has a cylindrical shape comprising 2 parts. The top part is 10 ¼ inches long, whereas the bottom part fans off into the cymbal-like shape and is about 4 ½ inches long. Thai instrument is made of hardwood with 7 key holes. At the top end is attached with a small tube and there are also 4 iron rings. At the bottom end, there is something like a pair of cymbals tied to the body of the clarinet with a string.
The secret of Mien Samak Sienprajit in Javanese Clarinet
Mien Samak Siengprajit revealed his secret in playing Javanese Clarinet as follows:
1. Internal organs such as lungs and windpipe must be healthy and strong.
2. Javanese Clarinet used must be a specially selected one.
3. The reed is the most important component. The secret lies in the various techniques of making the reed which is simply made from a dry palm leaf. But there are a lot of subtleties involved. This skill only comes with complete understanding of Pi Java itself. Mien Samak said “Five of my students have died. Doctors have checked and found out that they had infected lung tissues and windpipe”
While playing the Pi Java, it is important to cast a spell to make the listeners spellbound with the music. This spell is called Katha Mahaniyou (Popular Spell).
Mien Samak Siengprajit
Mien Samak Siengprajit was born in a family of Pi players. His uncle was Hua Mien Praya Prasan Duriyasap, head of the Royal Household Band, and his uncle had the title of Pra Pin Banlengraj. Both used to play the clarinets during the royal ceremonies in the reigns of King Rama V and King Rama VI. They were very popular at the court.
Mien Samak Siengprajit began to learn tis instrument at the age of 18. At that time, his father had the rank of Mien Trai Java (Yam Prasansap). Mien Samak Siengprajit was attached to the Police Department with the rank of Pan Kiriya Malayu.
There was the big flood in 1917. King Rama VI staged a boy scouts mock fighting in Nakorn Prathom Province and bestowed upon the young man the rank of Mien Samak Siengprasarn, which was an officer rank in the Music Department.
In 1921, Suan Kularb boxing stadium was opened for the first time, Mien Samak Siengprasarn was given the job of playing Pi Java with its unique haunting sound. His bank was the first band of the stadium. When Suan Kularb stadium was closed down, he moved to Sanamchai stadium, Tachang stadium, Lak Muang stadium, Suansanuk stadium, Thonburi stadium, and Suan chaochet stadium. Overall, he monopolized the playing of Pi Java with all its quality of haunting and thrill sound.
More information about Pi Java Muay Thai Musical Instrument