Since 2005, the blog Mae Mai examines music and culture through a postcolonial lens. By looking at music ecosystems worldwide the blog decenters Eurocentric and white musics by highlighting the musics of minority and underrepresented groups. It’s crucial to understand how cultural ecosystems of marginalized groups have been preserved, and in many cases flourished, through a history of colonialism and racial-supremacy if we are to understand how to dismantle, deconstruct, and decolonize privileged music ecosystems.
Born in Udon Thani, Thailand Jon Silpayamanant is an intercultural multi-instrumentalist, composer, and music educator based in the greater Louisville and Kentuckiana area. As a biracial Thai American with musical families on both sides of the world, he has been navigating musical code switching and bimusicality for much of his life and uses that experience to inform his understanding of how music ecosystems interact, hybridize, and create systems of exclusion.
History and background of Mae Mai
Mae Mai was the title of a blog at blogspot.com that I frequently used between 2005 and 2008. It was probably the one place that had most of my interesting thoughts on a variety of subjects.
The phrase, Mae Mai (Thai: แม่ไม้), is from Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) and designates the “Master Tricks” or major moves of the discipline (as opposed to the Look Mai or “Complementary Tricks”). The term literally translates as “wood mother” or “Mother of the woods.”
On 27 June 2022, Aniarani Andita reviewed Mae Mai in the Yearbook for Traditional Music. Pieces at Mae Mai have been used in University course readings in at least 31 music conservatories, colleges, art schools, and other institutions of higher learning in Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, UK, and the US. See the list here.