"Sounding the Centre" is an in-depth look at the power behind classical music and dance in Bangkok, the capital and sacred centre of Buddhist Thailand. Focusing on the ritual honouring teachers of music and dance, Deborah A. Wong reveals a complex network of connections among kings, teachers, knowledge and performance that underlies the classical court arts. Drawing on her extensive fieldwork, Wong lays out the ritual in detail: the way it is enacted, the foods and objects involved, and the people who perform it, emphasizing the way the performers themselves discuss and construct aspects of the ceremony. Only those who have been initiated by a master can manifest the divine in the human realm. The power held by the master musicians, Wong shows, is both ritual and social; they are not just ritual experts, they are also leaders at the government-run National Conservatory. This esoteric knowledge, Wong suggests, has helped Thai classical music endure in the face of changing patronage and the challenges posed by the urban environment that supports it. A compact disc accompanies the book.