The time was May 1946. The citizens of Thailand got their first opportunity to listen to a musical composition of a young royal brother who would soon be crowned their king. "Love at Sundown" surprised the audience, who found its sweet tune a pleasant departure from the usual pop music fare of the day. It became an instant hit.
In June, His Majesty the King followed up that first hit with his next offering to the Thai people, "Falling Rain." Close on its heels was the song "Near Dawn," also out in June. In 1947 His Majesty continued to delight the ears of his people with three more songs : "H.M. Blues," "Never Mind the Hungry Men's Blues," and "Candlelight Blues." The latter score, written in 1946, was actually his very first composition and only went public in 1947.
For the next 20 years, from that first release of His Majesty's music, the Thai people at home and abroad, as well as foreigners, have been charmed by the steady output of royal melodies. They were unanimous in admiration for and appreciation of His Majesty's musical genius. In the 1970s, however, there occurred a signal redirection as His Majesty began to devote practically all his time and energies to carrying out extensive royal initiatives on development, aimed at promoting the welfare and well-being of his subjects in all regions of the country.
When people talk of the royal compositions, it is understood that the melody of the songs is what is meant, whereas the accompanying lyrics are usually the efforts of several people invited by His Majesty for the contributions. Still, His Majesty himself wrote the lyrics for a few numbers in English: they are "Still on My Mind," "Old Fashioned Melody," "No Moon," "Dream Island," and "Echo."
The last two compositions in His Majesty's musical output, Nos. 47 and 48, are called "Love" and "Menu Kai." The lyrics for both pieces were poems penned by H.R.H. Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during her student days. The songs were released in 1995.
The entire collection of 48 songs forms the body of the musical arts of His Majesty. They represent the King's aesthetic sensibilities and great compassion to heighten the enjoyment of music in his subjects in the time to come, and, as the saying goes, to "wash away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
The following notes relate the circumstances under which the songs were composed, trace the support and inspiration provided by various people and events, and reveal the King's taste and preferences in music.
1. Candlelight Blues (Saeng Thian)
This song, a true blues, was actually His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Opus 1 despite the fact that two other songs of his had been published first. His Majesty composed "Candlelight Blues" in April 1946 when he was still known as the younger royal brother. H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri had the honor of writing the lyrics to this blues tune. Because His Majesty then felt he needed more time to adjust the tune and harmony at certain points, he waited awhile before releasing it to the public.
Prof. Dr. Prasert Na Nagara, a lyricist to His Majesty, gave a revealing account of a quality that was to run through the lyrics to the royal compositions: "His Majesty felt the end wording of 'Candlelight Blues' was somewhat melancholy, to which Prince Chakrabandh answered that it was inevitable as the African-American blues was essentially slow and sad. His Majesty countered that, sad as it might sound, a blues should end with a positive philosophy, a message of encouragement and hope."
"Candlelight Blues" was released after "Love at Sundown" and "Falling Rain", His Majesty's second and third compositions in order of composing, making it number three in order of release. In its first release (1947), "Candlelight Blues" was sung by Mr. Euah Sunthornsanan and performed by his famous Suntharaporn band. In 1953, Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol had the honor to write the English lyrics to the song; that's how the melody came to be known in English as "Candlelight Blues."
2. Love at Sundown (Yam Yen)
Like "Candlelight Blues," this song was composed while His Majesty was still the royal brother. The Thai lyrics were written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri and the English lyrics by Prof. Thanphuying Nopakhun Thongyai Na Ayudhya.
His Majesty pointed out a fact relating to "Love at Sundown" while granting an audience to the committee of the Musicians Association of Thailand at Dusidalai Hall, Chitralada Villa, who were there to present a financial contribution to the King's development funds: "'Love at Sundown,' my second song, is elder brother to 'Falling Rain': One month older, it was born in April 1946."
"Love at Sundown" took to the airwaves from the Public Relations Department radio station, making it the first song in His Majesty's repertoire to be released to the public. Shortly after, the song was performed at a fundraising concert given by the Anti-Tuberculosis Society of Thailand at the Ambara Villa dance hall on 4 May 1946. The lively love song with a fox-trot tempo proved popular with the Thais, who readily adopted it as a dance number, reflecting the then growing trend of popularity of Western-style dances. His Majesty, however, had this comment on the instant hit -"'Love at Sundown' seems well received, but is not as popular as 'Falling Rain.'"
3. Falling Rain (Sai Fon)
The third number in the royal repertoire and the second release after "Love at Sundown," "Falling Rain" was composed in May 1946 before the King's accession to the throne. A waltz with a graceful rhythm, it was given its first public performance on 2 June 1946 at the Ambara Villa dance hall and has since been one of the most popular royal tunes. The lyrics in Thai and English were written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri and by Prof. Thanphuying Nopakhun Thongyai Na Ayudhya respectively.
In an address before the committee of the Musicians Association of Thailand on 16 December 1981, His Majesty talked of how the melody came to him, of a little twist to make it work, and of the salutatory effect it has had on the public:
One night when I was in bed, listening to the radio, a whiff of high spirits hit me. I turned off the radio and on a piece of paper began scribbling down a few lines.... The following morning I was on the antique piano, hitting the keys here and there, only to produce some clanking notes. The sound was not yet good, but I kept at it for about two hours, rearranging and putting it down. Afterwards, I had the finished note sent to H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri, saying "I've got a song." The prince forwarded it to Khru Euah (Euah Sunthornsanan) who promptly arranged the piece for band performance. The very next day the song was heard in a public performance at Ambara Villa.
There's a little secret about "Falling Rain." When the four parts-1, 2, 3, 4-were finished, I switched part 3 and part 2, which made its rhythm somewhat different. I felt good about it. At first, it was parts 1, 2, 3, 4, but then it went 1, 3, 2, 4, which is what it is today.
At the time I was overjoyed, you know, the day it was first performed by the Suntharaporn band. H.R.H. Prince Rangsit Prayurasakdi, Prince of Jainad my uncle and later my regent, was a music lover, with an ear for classical music. He likes to listen only to sublime, authentic music. Once the song was finished, he turned around and, nodding, said it was good. I was overjoyed at the moment, I truly was, I tell you. It gave me goose bumps.
Some six months after the song was released, H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri wrote to me telling of a stroll he was taking in Chiang Mai when he heard someone whistling the "Falling Rain" tune. He checked it out and saw that the sound was coming from a tiny alley, made by a woman busy washing some clothes. So, "Falling Rain" is that effective: it helps clean clothes, too.
About 25 years ago, during my numerous trips up-country to practically every province in the country, I was often feted with dinner parties by people from every sector - government officials, businessmen, people in general. Among the entertainment shows not to be left out was the "Falling Rain" dance, which was sometimes given during heavy rain or drizzle. Since I was often tired, I watched the show with some irritation. I wondered why I had to write this number so that the people would do the "Falling Rain" show so frequently. Then again, it dawned on me that I have every cause to be happy for writing this song. The people obviously regarded it as (my) theme song, and that's why they staged it for me.
"Falling Rain" was performed by the Tonkünstler Orchestra of Lower Austria at the Concert Hall in Vienna on 3 October 1964 and was heard nationwide on the Austrian national radio network.
4. Near Dawn (Klai Rung)
"Near Dawn" is another number written before his accession. Prof. Dr. Prasert Na Nagara, who wrote the Thai lyrics, said His Majesty asked him to clothe the tune without specifying a theme for it. Prof. Prasert himself said the lyrics were inspired by the dawn crowing of the neighbor's roosters; he also bore in mind the song's planned launch at the Chicken Raising Promotion Association of Thailand in June 1946:
Incidentally, King Rama VIII and his younger brother (the present King Bhumibol) were about to preside over a function organized by the Chicken Raising Promotion Association of Thailand. And that's how the fowl was partly featured in the wording as an essential element of the theme.
According to Prof. Prasert, a half minor note appears in the song, to which the Thais were not yet accustomed to, but they later accepted the movement. In this song, His Majesty used a common technique from Thai traditional music in a Western-style song.
Prof. Prasert took one hour to compose the lyrics. Because of his inexperience in reading musical scores at the time, however, he at first wrote only three verses, not realizing the symbol at the end of the third movement meant one more repeat from the beginning. After H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri pointed that out to him, he came up with the first line of the last verse, with the prince helping him out with the second line to wrap up the score.
"Near Dawn" was premi"red in July 1946 by the Suntharaporn band. The English version of the song was done by Prof. Thanpuying Nopakhun Thongyai Na Ayudhya, with editing help from H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.
5. H.M. Blues (Chata Chiwit)
His Majesty wrote this blues while studying in Switzerland after his accession to the throne. Its simple melody follows a 12-bar series of specific chords called a "blues progression," a common framework for songs of this type. His Majesty had H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri compose the English lyrics before its Thai version.
In case people mistake the initials "H.M." for "His Majesty," let it be said that such is not the case. His Majesty told the story about how he and the band members, in playing at private dinner functions he hosted for Thai expatriates in Switzerland, often got so carried away with the playing that they did not get to sit down for their dinner until halfway through the night, after everyone else had already finished theirs. That's how the title "Hungry Men's Blues" came to be.
Nevertheless, the Thai lyrics for the song, written by Prof. Dr. Prasert Na Nagara, picked a theme totally different from that of the English version because the academic did not have the English lyrics with him at the time of composition. The Thai version, whose title means "Fate," spoke of the wandering of a lonely bird under the unlucky stars, waiting for the new dawn to break through. Still, the two versions had philosophical endings, in keeping with His Majesty's intention.
"H.M. Blues" was performed by the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band in New York City on 17 May 1995.
6. Never Mind the Hungry Men's Blues (DuangChai Kap Khwam Rak)
Composed early in the reign while he was studying in Lausanne, Switzerland, this song, as implied by its title, picked up where "H.M. Blues" left off. Playing with his amateur band, Krapong (Brassy), His Majesty challenged any Thais who might muster enough courage to join him in the band.
This song came to be at another gathering. As it were, people kept pestering him with queries about the initials in the song "H.M. Blues." Having had another late-night dinner as usual after a drawn-out performing session, he finally let out that "H.M." is simply "Hungry Men," in allusion to the fact that he was often held up by the band playing before he could lay his hands on his dinner for the night. He also asked H.H. Prince Chakrabandh to supply English and Thai lyrics to the melody of an existing Thai song of his, "Duang Chai Kap Khwam Rak," under the title of "Never Mind the Hungry Men's Blues."
Prof. Ted Pease, the distinguished professor of jazz composition at Berklee College of Music, Boston, had this to say about this song from the royal repertoire: " 'Never Mind the Hungry Men's Blues' is a wonderful swing composition in the style of such Duke Ellington classics as 'Don't Get Around Much Anymore' and 'I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart.' Arranging this composition was fun for me because His Majesty so correctly understands this jazz style. The arrangement just flowed out in a very natural way."
7. Royal Guards March (March Raja Wanlop)
His Majesty composed the "Royal Guards March" in 1948 for the First Infantry Regiment King's Own Bodyguard for use as the focal point around which the bodyguards could rally as one in defense of the crown and country. The Thai lyrics were written by Major Sripo Tosnud.
8. Blue Day (Athit Ap Saeng)
His Majesty wrote "Blue Day" on 3 February 1949 during his stay in Davos in the Swiss Alps. The Thai and English lyrics to "Athit Ap Saeng" and "Blue Day" were both written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri. His Majesty gave permission to Michael Todd Productions to perform "Blue Day" and "Falling Rain" in New York.
9. Dream of Love, Dream of You (Thewa PhaKhu Fan)
This waltz was written on 7 February 1949, shortly after "Blue Day," during his stay in Davos. Both the Thai and English lyrics to "Thewa Pha Khu Fan" and "Dream of Love, Dream of You" were written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.
According to H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri's diary, the love songs "Blue Day" and "Dream of Love, Dream of You" spoke of a lovebird longing for his sweetheart. They were written at the time when His Majesty and his fiancee, then-Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, were temporarily separated, the latter being in Lausanne: "The day is blue when you are so far away, and so, after sundown, I dream that the angels will bring us 'dream lovers' together in the land of rainbows, roses, and dreams."
10. Sweet Words (Kham Wan)
This song was composed on Sunday, 13 February 1949, shortly after His Majesty's return to Thailand; its Thai and English lyrics were written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.
In his early composing days, His Majesty combined the chromatic scale with complex chords to create elegant harmonies and sounds, but the practice made it difficult to memorize the notes. When he was aware of the difficulty involved, he experimented with the pentatonic scale, desiring to show that even such a simple scale as the five notes to a chord had the potential to produce beautiful sounds. Asking H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri to come up with the first part of this song, His Majesty carried the tune to completion on a pentatonic scale. It was Friday, 18 February 1949.
When M.R. Sumonchati Swasdikul made a request to His Majesty for an alma mater for Chulalongkorn University, he graciously gave them this tune. Thanpuying Somroj Swasdikul Na Ayudhya and Mr. Suporn Polcheewin were asked to fill out the melody with Thai lyrics.
Early in 1954, the King asked Mr. Taywaprasit Phattayakosol to arrange the song in the Thai classical music mode. Later on, the maestro rearranged the song to be played as an overture for the university's Thai Classical Music Club band.
12. Lovelight in My Heart (Kaeo Ta KhwanChai)
His Majesty wrote this song in 1949 and had H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri write the Thai and English lyrics.
13. New Year Greetings (Phon Pi Mai)
As the title suggests, this song was His Majesty's musical greeting to his people to usher in the New Year of 1952. It was written in December 1951 after His Majesty returned to Thailand and took up residence at Chitralada Villa in Dusit Palace. The lyrics were composed by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri. With royal blessing, it was concurrently performed on New Year's Eve by the Chulalongkorn band at Chulalongkorn University and the Suntharaporn band at the Chalerm Thai Theater. Since then, the song has been a regular number on the Au Sau radio program and one of the New Year celebrations' most popular theme songs.
14. Love Over Again (Rak Khuen Ruean)
Written in 1952, it was performed for the first time at the dinner party of the Old England Students Association under Royal Patronage at the Ambara Villa dance hall on Saturday, 2 February 1952. The English and Thai lyrics to the song were composed by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.
15. Twilight (Yam Kam)
The Thai and English lyrics to the song were written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.
Prof. Ted Pease of Berklee College, in Boston, who was tasked with the arrangement of this song for the royal repertoire, commented, "His Majesty's composition has a nice flow. I especially enjoy the diminished chords that he uses in the bridge of the tune."
16. Smiles (Yim Su)
His Majesty graciously dedicated this song to the blind, wishing to urge them on, to see in their mind's eyes that hope and happiness belong to us all. He wrote the song in 1952 after one of his visits to the School for the Blind.
H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri, who wrote the English and Thai lyrics, converted an English poem titled "Smiles" into the English lyrics. He found the poem fit perfectly with the melody.
His Majesty permitted the School for the Blind to adopt the song as its anthem. He made sure that the blind, in the course of learning to sing it, were thoroughly taught how to do it well, now that it had become theirs.
17. The Colors March (Thong Chai ChaloemPhon)
Composed in 1952, this military march was granted to the Armed Forces by His Majesty for playing during the annual Trooping the Colors Ceremony. In 1954, His Majesty had the scores and lyrics for "The Colors March" and "Royal Guards March" published and sold to raise funds for charity.
18. I Never Dream (Muea Som Song)
Whenever "I Never Dream" is played, the air vibrates with the sound of soft waltz music. His Majesty wrote the song in Switzerland in 1954, with the English lyrics written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri and the Thai lyrics by Thanpuying Somroj Swasdikul Na Ayudhya. It was performed at the annual party of the American Alumni Association under Royal Patronage at the Saranrom Garden Club on Saturday, 23 January 1954.
19. Love in Spring (Lom Nao)
This is one of the earliest songs His Majesty composed after his return home for permanent residence in the country; it was granted to the Old England Students Association as their signature tune. The English lyrics were written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri and the Thai lyrics by Thanpuying Somroj Swasdikul. "Love in Spring," a bittersweet love tune, turned out to be one of His Majesty's most popular compositions.
20. Friday Night Rag (Suk Sanyalak)
His Majesty wrote this song as the signature tune of his house band, Wong Lay Kram (The Vintage Band), the sound of which could be heard loud and clear every Friday when the band came together for their regular jam session. Members of the band included His Majesty's close relatives and long-standing friends. M.R. Seni Pramoj, a member of the band, was asked to write the English and Thai lyrics - words full of fun, gusto, gaiety, and camaraderie.
21. Oh I Say
His Majesty wrote this song in 1955 during a stay at Klai Kangwon, a royal palace in Hua Hin on the eastern coastline of the South. M.R. Seni Pramoj was given the honor of writing the English lyrics. The song was a hit among university students and, whenever His Majesty joined in the performance at a campus concert, became a must-play item.
22. Can't You Ever See
His Majesty wrote this song in 1955 and had H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri write the English lyrics.
23. Lay Kram Goes Dixie
After his return to Thailand in 1950, His Majesty assembled an inner-circle group of royals and close friends to form a jazz band, which he named "The Lay Kram Band." And Dixieland was what they mostly played, for the simple reason that it was the King's pet style. As time went by, a growing number of royal compositions in uarions musical styles rolled out on a regular basis. His house band got to play a varied mixture of royal and other numbers and even gave performances live on the airwaves beamed from the radio station. "Lay Kram Goes Dixie" exudes improvised joyousness and the breath-taking jazziness of Dixie. Jazz composer Claude Bolling, who arranged this song for the royal repertoire in 1996, commented:
Being a true jazz fan and connoisseur, His Majesty loves Dixieland jazz. The Big Band Dixie experts have their fling with this joyful theme - American style music, Thai composition, French interpretation. Coming from their instruments, jazz has truly become a worldwide language. May it contribute to the advent of universal brotherhood.
24. Lullaby (Kham Laeo)
The story goes that His Majesty would cradle his newly-born daughter H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in one hand and play "Lullaby" on the electronic organ with the other hand until the little princess went to sleep. People have believed that His Majesty composed this song specifically for her. The princess herself, however, reportedly denied it. She only insisted later that she would easily be lulled to sleep on hearing it played - every time. A rough translation of the Thai title, "Kham Laeo," is "Night night, sleep tight!"
The English lyrics to the song were written jointly by Prof. Thanpuying Nopakhun Na Ayudhya and H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri, and the Thai lyrics by Thanpuying Somroj Swasdikul Na Ayudhya.
25. I Think of You (Sai Lom)
The English and Thai lyrics were written by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.
26. When (Klai Kangwon and Koet Pen Thai Tai Phuea Thai)
This song was written in 1957 specifically to be the parting signature tune of His Majesty's Au Saw Friday band, to be played always as the last number. The English lyrics were written by the congressman Mr. Raul Manglapus of the Philippines. The Thai lyrics to "Klai Kangwon" ("Far from Worry") were written by Mr. Wichai Kokilakanit.
According to Mr. Manrat Srikaranonda, "His Majesty wrote 'When' at Klai Kangwon Palace in 1957. In 1971, a time of political uncertainty, Her Majesty the Queen sought His Majesty's permission to have Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag write another version of the Thai lyrics, this time patriotic in theme, titled 'Koet Pen Thai Tai Phuea Thai' ('Born Thai, [One Must] Die for Thailand').
"As for the first Thai version of 'When,' everyone understood that when they heard the number it meant the party was over, and they would start to line up for His Majesty's departure. Everything went well until one time when everyone was caught off guard. His Majesty did things unexpectedly, and a bit differently - he did play the finale, but improvising it in one key only, and then packed up his musical instrument, telling the audience, 'That's it for tonight, folks.' The startled audience, looking perplexed, asked about 'When,' to which His Majesty grinned, 'I just did it.' The audience later began to catch on, and, hearing His Majesty play only one note in the chord of E flat, they would know right away that it's time to go home. It's fun all the way, really."
27. Magic Beams (Saeng Duean)
His Majesty wrote this song in 1958, after his return to the permanent home in Thailand. H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri wrote both the Thai and English lyrics. His Majesty granted permission to Khunying Genevieve Damon to choreograph a ballet to this graceful melody for a charity performance at Ambara Villa.
28. Somewhere Somehow (Fan and Phloen Phuphing)
Having written this song in 1959, His Majesty asked H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri to clothe it with English lyrics. The Thai lyrics to "Fan" ("Dream") were written by Mr. Sriswad Pichitvarakarn. In 1966, on her first visit to Phuphing Palace in Chiang Mai, Her Majesty the Queen was quite taken with the natural tranquility and beauty of the palace compound. Her Majesty asked Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag to write the second version of the Thai lyrics to the same melody of "Fan." But Thanpuying Maniratana did not get down to writing the first words immediately until she herself had a chance to accompany the Queen to Phuphing Palace. It was only then that she was inspired enough to pen the lyrics, to be called "Phloen Phuphing" ("Delightful Phuphing").
29. Royal Marines March (March RajaNawikayothin)
Back in 1959, Admiral Sanong Nisaluck, commander of the Royal Thai Marine Corps, made a request to His Majesty for a march, as the corps had yet to have their own marching tune. Upon learning of this predicament, His Majesty happily and immediately obliged, for he knocked it off without delay. The result was the "Royal Marines March," granted to the corps on 28 June 1959, much to the delight and thanks of all marines, to this day. The march was performed for the first time on 5 July 1959 on the occasion of an official visit by the U.S. marines attached to the Seventh Fleet of the United States.
The original lyrics were written by the Royal Marine Corps VADM Jaturong Punkongchuen and VADM Sumitr Chuenmanus, later revised jointly by M.L. Praphan Snidvongs, Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag, RADM Juab Hongsakul, RADM Preecha Disyanan, and Mr. Manrat Srikaranonda.
The Tonkünstler Orchestra performed the march in the Vienna Concert Hall on 3 October 1964.
30-33. A Love Story, Nature Waltz, TheHunter, and Kinari Waltz
These melodies were written and arranged by His Majesty specially for the Manohra ballet. (Manohra is a classical dance form of the South.) The balletic art-form is made up of a suite of songs: "A Love Story (Phirom Rak)," "Nature Waltz," "The Hunter," "Kinari Waltz," and "Blue Day." ("Blue Day" is a previous composition of His Majesty's.) The collection attests to His Majesty's talents in composing diverse musical styles, be it popular, light, jazz, or classic. The Thai lyrics to "Phirom Rak" were written by RADM Preecha Disyanan and the English lyrics to "A Love Story" by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.
The Manohra ballet with the five songs was premi"red in 1959, accompanied live by the Royal Thai Navy Orchestra. On 3 October 1964, the ballet suites, in a special performance by the Tonkünstler Orchestra, were broadcast live on the Austrian radio network.
This welcome song was written and performed in honor of H.R.H. Princess Alexandra of Kent on the occasion of her 1959 visit to Thailand. M.L. Usni Pramoj remarked, "On the day of the banquet, His Majesty arrived at Sala Phaka Phirom shortly before Princess Alexandra's scheduled arrival and handed my father (M.R. Seni Pramoj) a score sheet. It was a gentle melody of short duration. My father duly scribbled down some English lyrics for the music. And, as quickly and smoothly as the whole affair seemed to move along, after dinner His Majesty played the tune on the piano, with Mr. Manrat Srikaranonda singing."
The Thai lyrics written later to the sweet tune by Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag under the title of "Phaendin Khong Rao" ("Our Motherland") were marked by patriotic fervor and pride for the motherland. The composition was made at the request of Her Majesty the Queen who felt that more music for patriotism wouldn't hurt anyone; she saw it fitting to have this sweet tune do a few extra notes for the country. To Her Majesty, a gentle patriotic tune would do a better job of persuasion than a hard-boiled march. Thanpuying Maniratana said, "While His Majesty, at Her Majesty's request, was playing 'Alexandra' on the piano, adding the middle and end movements and filling up the entire 32 bars, I listened and made up the lyrics right then and there."
35. Pra Maha Mongkon
The Suntharaporn band, Thailand's most famous pop-jazz orchestra, reached its 20th anniversary on 20 November 1959. On the occasion, His Majesty gave an audience to Mr. Euah Sunthornsanan on 20 November 1959 and suggested this tune be made the band's signature song. With royal permission, Mr. Euah named the song "Phra Maha Mongkhon" ("The Supreme Blessing"), which has been the band's non-vocal signature tune since.
His Majesty wrote this alma mater for Thammasat University in 1962 and performed the tune, still without lyrics, for the campus audience on 30 March 1962. After Naichamnongrajakij (Mr. Jaral Bunyarattabandhu) wrote the Thai lyrics to the song, His Majesty performed it once again, together with singing, on 9 February 1963 during his visit to the university.
37. Still on My Mind (Nai Duang Chai Niran)
His Majesty wrote the music and English lyrics to this song himself, hence marking the first time he had ever done so. It was 1965. He first named it "I Can't Get You out of My Mind" but later changed it to "Still on My Mind." His Majesty asked Prof. Dr. Prasert Na Nagara to write the Thai lyrics for it and to retain the verse-for-verse format of the English version, keeping the transltion as faithful to the original as possible.
38. Old-Fashioned Melody (Phleng Tuean Chai)
As with "Still on My Mind," His Majesty wrote the music and English lyrics to "Old-Fashioned Melody" himself and asked Prof. Dr. Prasert Na Nagara to write the Thai verse for him. But Prof. Prasert's proposed title and literal translation did not quite appeal to His Majesty. (It sounded somewhat ancient, quite inadvertently.) Later Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag wrote another Thai version, titled "Phleng Tuean Chai." According to Thanpuying Maniratana, "Actually, His Majesty did not ask me to do it, I just tried my hand at it myself. I found the notes a bit difficult and had to turn to M.L. Praphan [Praphan Snidvongs] for some help."
39. No Moon (Rai Chan and Rai Duean)
Once again, His Majesty wrote the music and English lyrics to this song himself. It belongs in the same series as "Still on My Mind" and "Old-Fashioned Melody." Two versions of the Thai lyrics exist for this song: "Rai Chan" was written by Mr. Ajin Panjapan, and "Rai Duean" by Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag and M.L. Praphan Snidvongs. (The two Thai titles mean exactly the same as the English title.)
40. Dream Island (Ko Nai Fan)
This is the fourth song for which His Majesty wrote the English lyrics himself. Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag wrote the Thai lyrics.
41. Echo (Waeo)
This is another number in the series of songs for which His Majesty wrote the English lyrics. Prof. Dr. Prasert Na Nagara, who wrote the Thai lyrics, did his best to retain as much of the original meaning of "'Echo' as possible through literal translation. His Majesty asked M.L. Usni Pramoj to arrange the melody for performance. M.L. Usni had this to say about the task: "When His Majesty handed me this as yet unnamed score for arrangement, I studied the melody to find its beats. I found the first two notes forming a pair of fifths, so I used a sequence of fifths to shape the introduction. It was probably this sequence that led His Majesty to name the new work 'Echo.'"
"Echo" was first performed in public at the Sangkhitamongkhon Concert on 6 April 1966.
This is another alma mater His Majesty wrote, this time for Kasetsart University, on 17 December 1964. Prof. Dr. Prasert Na Nagara wrote the lyrics, about which he said, "For the first time in my life I served His Majesty in music by writing the lyrics to 'Near Dawn,' and it took me about one and a half hours to finish, whereas for 'Kasetsart,' the last number I did for him, it took me nearly a year even just to get started. Why, I could give three reasons for it: First, it was His Majesty's composition that I had to do; second, it was to be the alma mater for Kasetsart University; and third, I was thinking of 'Chulalongkorn,' that royal alma mater of great renown. The fact was, it was so accomplished in its lyrics that I balked at the task, wondering if in doing this one I too could attain the lofty standard set by that song. I felt rather humbled most of the time. But when His Majesty inquired about how the lyrics were coming along, I had no choice but to snap out of it, brace myself, and finish the writing at last."
43. Kwamfan An Sungsud
It has always been Her Majesty the Queen's wish to offer words of encouragement to government officials, the military and police forces, and civilians in performing their duties for the nation with conscietiousness. Once again, she asked Thanpuying Maniratana Bunnag to write a poem with an uplifting message, and the result was "Kwamfan An Sungsud" ("The Noblest Dream"). Thanpuying Maniratana said of the lyrics, that she was inspired by His Majesty himself, after years of intimate impressions of the King's character and adroit dispensation of royal affairs.
Her Majesty had the lyrics printed on a small card and distributed to government officials, the military and police forces, and civilians. Later, Her Majesty asked His Majesty if he could come up with a melody to fit the poem. His Majesty rose to the challenge, and for the first time, in 1971, His Majesty fitted a melody to a lyric poem.
His Majesty asked M.L. Usni Pramoj to arrange the song. M.L. Usni considered this song a piece of functional music, produced to serve an immediate, specific purpose, in contrast to the inspired music of His Majesty's previous works.
44. Rao Su
Like "Kwamfan An Sungsud," this song was another straightforward patriotic song, and like it, the music for this song was written after the lyrics had been completed first. The songwriter, Mr. Sompop Chantaraprapa, wrote the four-verse poem in 1973, basing his lyrics on a royal address given to a group of civilians, the military and police forces who sought an audience with His Majesty at the end of a charity football match. His Majesty ordered the printing of the poem to be given as a New Year gift to soldiers, militiamen, and border patrol police.
His Majesty asked M.L. Usni Pramoj to arrange the song and tried it out in a public performance by the Au Saw Friday band. His Majesty then made some corrections and rearrangement before finally releasing it to the public. It was His Majesty's intention that, for the later generation of royal compositions, all participating musicians could contribute their comments and help improve the melodies. His Majesty called it "composition co-operative style."
In his comments on "Rao Su" ("We Shall Fight"), Mr. Manrat Srikaranonda said, "His Majesty is truly a maestro. He is able to write music on the spur of the moment, whenever inspiration hits him. In the case of 'Rao Su,' he drew five note lines on the back of an envelope, and noted down the melody out of his head at once."
45. We-Infantry 21
During her stay at the Daksin Palace in the South in September 1976, Her Majesty the Queen suggested to Pol. Lt. Col. Vallop Chansaengsri that he write some lyrics as the signature tune of Infantry Regiment 21, with the stipulation that it contain a phrase with these words, "The ultimate destiny of Thailand is its nationhood." The result was "We-Infantry 21". His Majesty wrote the melody to fit the lyrics, making it the third song he wrote after the lyrics.
46. Blues for Uthit
This song was written as a memorial to Mr. Uthit Tinakorn Na Ayudhya, a member of the Au Saw Friday band, who passed away on 6 August 1979. This instrumental piece was performed for the first time on the Au Saw radio on Friday, 10 August 1979.
The lyrics of "Love" ("Rak") were originally a poem written by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn when she was a 12-year-old, Grade 7 student at Chitralada School. Her Majesty the Queen saw the poem and thought it was good, so when an opportune moment arrived, she asked His Majesty to write a melody to go with it.
According to Mr. Manrat Srikaranonda, one day in November 1994, His Majesty walked in with Princess Sirindhorn's poem in his hand. He then tried playing different versions on the saxophone. At first, Mr. Manrat managed only to get it down "phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence." His Majesty then suggested that Mr. Manrat take down the notation in shorthand and he would play the notes bar by bar. They did so until a style emerged and was decided upon, resulting in "Love." His Majesty had the music played by the Au Saw Friday band every Friday and Sunday throughout December 1994.
On 31 December 1994, the Au Saw Friday band played "Love" a total of 27 times going from table to table before an audience of court and government officials at Borom Phiman in the Grand Palace. It was the only song played that night. Later, the lyrics were revised to fit the melody, and Mr. Manrat rearranged the song in a swing style. The song was broadcast over the Cho So F.M. 100 radio station network early in 1995.
48. Menu Kai
Early in 1995, in a talk on "His Majesty and His Music," Mr. Manrat Srikaranonda recounted how H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri asked His Majesty to write a melody for a poem she wrote in 1975, called "Menu Kai" ("Eggs on the Menu"). His Majesty duly obliged, and on handing it over gave the comment, "A nice name, and funny too."
His Majesty played "Menu Kai" for H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana at a party for her 72nd birthday held in her honor at the Dusidalai Hall, Chitralada Villa, and celebrating the investiture of the princess with the title "Princess of Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra." H.R.H. Princess Galyani has been known to have a penchant for all types of egg dishes.