I was on a motorcycle taxi the other day, practicing some calming breathing exercises as we navigated the busy streets of Bangkok, when my driver decided to be his own radio. He sang luk thung – Thai “country” music – all the way to my apartment. For as far as I was concerned, he could’ve been a “luk thung” star. I thought to myself that if I, with all my opportunities and training, devoted my life to singing “luk thung”, I probably still wouldn’t sound anywhere as good as him.
I’ve noticed this over and over again as I travel the world, and also at home in America. People sing the way that they hear songs sung. Even people who claim to be tone-deaf pick up all sorts of stylistic nuances from the music they grow up with. There is an important lesson in this, and it is: Continue reading