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…