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The mahori (thai มโหรี) (also spelled mohori) is a form of Thai and Cambodian classical ensemble which was traditionally played by women in the courts of both Central Thailand and Cambodia. It combines the xylophones and gong circles (but not the pi, or oboe) of the piphat with the strings of the khruang sai ensemble.
Historically the ensemble included smaller instruments more appropriate, it was thought, to the build of female performers. Today the ensemble employs regular sized instruments—a combination of instruments from both the khruang sai and piphat ensembles but excluding the loud and rather shrill oboe. The ensemble, which is performed in three sizes—small, medium and large—includes the three-string so sam sai fiddle, a delicate-sounding, middle-range bowed lute with silk strings. Within the context of the mahori ensemble, the so sam sai accompanies the vocalist, which plays a more prominent role in this ensemble than in any other classical Thai orchestra.
While Thai classical music was somewhat discouraged as being unmodern and backward looking during Thailand's aggressively nationalistic modernization policies of the mid-20th century, the classical arts have benefited recently from increased governmental sponsorship and funding as well as popular interest as expressed in such films as Homrong: The Overture (2003), a popular fictionalized biography of a famous early 20th century ranat ek player and composer Luang Pradit Phairao.