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Meet the Composer of Lanna Embrace

Pictures of James Barlow, composer of 'Lanna Embrace'JAMES BARLOW IS A YOUNG Scot who has created a series of soothing spa music for Ajarn Ampai Sheehan, Managing Director of Siam Spa Health & Beauty in Chiang Mai.

The two met through a mutual friend, and Ampai raised the concept of recording traditional music, mixed with the sounds of nature. Ampai wanted to produce music that would provide a therapeutic backdrop to the natural healing ambience of the spa industry.

James, a sound engineering graduate who had worked in acoustics in the English city of Nottingham, was already familiar with Asian music and instruments, such as the Indian sitar. He discussed with Ajarn Ampai the creation of a special melodies, encapsulating local music fused with the sounds of nature: insects, birds, creatures of the forest, babbling brooks and waves running up a sandy beach.

James gradually built up a library of natural sounds, which he recorded from around the country, and mixed them, in his Chiang Mai- based KHZ Studios, with musical pieces performed by local musicians. The use of soothing music in harmony with certain sounds, such as flowing water, or muffled gongs and bells, produces in the body a sense of peace and relaxation. Sound waves affect the body in many ways. Soft music, when combined with the sound of rippling water, for instance, can and does reduce one's heart rate, thereby reducing stress and creating an atmosphere of serenity.

Before long, James had created Ajarn Ampai's vision in the form of a compact disc, entitled "Beautiful Asia - A Lanna Embrace". The first album, a fusion of natural sounds and Northern Thai instrumentals, was launched in the summer, and became an instant hit.

So successful was the first project that James has already begun work on two more albums, scheduled for release before Christmas 2005. James explained that the next two CDs will comprise more regional sounds and music, many collected during a recent visit to Indonesia. While touring the country he recorded the indigenous sounds of local musicians, which he intends mixing with the ambient sounds he recorded from the forests of Northen Java to the golden beaches of Bali.

The success of the first album in the "Beautiful Asia" series has already attracted the attention of a large Bangkok distributor who has plans to package the three-album set and sell them worldwide.

"From small acorns large oaks will grow," goes the old age. A chance meeting between young James Barlow and Ampai Sheehan has led to the worldwide distribution of a very special blend of music, created right here in Chiang Mai

CD's can be purchased from CD Green on Proppoklao Road; Siam Spa two branches, Sriphum Road or 3rd floor, Hillside Condo 4, Huay Kaew Road and at leading Spas in Chiang Mai.

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