Discovering Malaysian Music Through the History of Wind Bands in Malaysia

While performing on the saxophone or guest conducting outside of Malaysia, often I received queries about what Malaysian music is, and where to find them. Malaysian music is as varied, complex, rich, and vibrant as the people themselves. It is such a broad and evolving topic, and I dare not claim an expert to it. But here I am to share what contribute to the identity of Malaysian music from the lens of the history of wind bands in Malaysia. Wind band is a flexible term for a musical group that consists mostly of wind instruments, with the addition of percussion, piano, harp and occasionally the low string instruments in…

Discovering Malaysian Music Through Folk Songs – My Journey

As a Malaysian musician living abroad, I am often asked, “What is Malaysian Music?” The great Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and music educator, Zoltan Kodály wrote, “The compositions of every country, if original, are based on the songs of its own people. That is why their folk songs must be constantly sung, observed, and studied.” (Kodály, 1964) These words ring so true. Malaysian folk songs are, albeit a small yet very integral part of what defines Malaysian music. From our folk songs, we learn a great deal about Malaysia’s melting pot of culture, the wonderful people from different ethnicities, their delightful sense of humour and drama, the various languages and dialects…