Drums - skor ស្គរ thon ថូន romonea រមនា

Last update: December 9, 2023

Skor thon ស្គរថូន and skor romonea ស្គររមនា known simply as thon ថូន and romonea រមនា in the musicians' world, are a couple of drums used in mahori music. The first is a goblet drum and the second a frame drum.


Instruments of the mahori orchestra of King Norodom I. c.1871.

Two photographs by Émile Gsell, taken at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh (c.1871), attest to the fact that these two drums were played by two separate musicians, whereas today a single artist plays both instruments.

Female musician playing thon drum at the court of King Norodom I. This example is of remarkable craftsmanship. At the time, the Siamese made them in ceramic with colored and gilded decorations. This one, however, appears to be made of wood, given the relief. The foot is decorated with lozenges. The skin is tightened by a very tight vegetable tie (ropeak រពាក់?).

Today, such instruments can be seen in Bangkok's National Museum and in the Suan Pakkad palace museum. At its center is a black circle, like Indian drums (visible in the photo of the ten instruments).


Photo Émile Gsell c.1871.

Female musician playing the romonea at the court of King Norodom I. In the center of the membrane is a dark-colored circle (lacquer?). The drum is tuned with a string wedged between the edge of the frame and the skin. The more you engage it, the tighter the skin and the higher the tone.


Photo Émile Gsell c.1871.

Romonea drums were once prestigious. They remain so in Thailand, where they are most often made of colored ceramic.


This video, filmed in 2019 during the Chapei Festival in Phnom Penh, shows the skor thon tuning technique. The skor romonea is replaced by a skor daey which is functionally and acoustically similar. We will notice the alternating play of the hands.