'Music speaks what cannot be expressed in words.' The rich and varied cultural heritage of Malaysia has also understood the importance of music and added this bead in its string. Malaysian music originally was developed out of need, like in earlier times when there was nothing to communicate; it was used to keep up a correspondence. Be it an announcement for wedding, birth, danger, warnings, death and any other news, the different beats of drums used to convey the message across villages.
Malaysia is a multi-cultural country and none of its cultural arts is
untouched by the influence. Applying the same theory for music, it had
inclinations of Indonesian, Thai, Portuguese, Filipino and Chinese
composition. Malaysian music which was influenced by various cultures
got evolved with the passing time and secured its individual identity.
In different parts of the country, there live people of many racial
groups who have their own musical preferences, like Arabic Ghazals are
popular in Kuala Lumpur and Rongeng music is preferred in Malacca.
Instigated from Arabia, Zapin music is loved all over the country. In
fact, the present culture is soon catching up the taste of Europeans and
Americans and thus, scores of pop singers and rock bands are emerging
here. Regarding traditional music of Malaysia, it is based on Gamelan
which is a stringed instrument having ethereal and stifled sound.
Earlier, Gamelan accompanied by the hypnotic beats of Malaysian drums
used to make the background music for dances in the courts.
Today, Rebana Ubi serves as the ceremonial instrument and often played
to strike refined music. Keeping up the time-honored heritage, Giant
Drum Festival is arranged every year in Kelantan where eminent players
across the country come to show their talent. Another popular
traditional instrument which is used commonly in social occasions is
Kompang. Pronounced "sa-peh", Sape is a convention lute from
Central Borneo, popular in Malaysia. It is used habitually by the
Kenyahs, Kayans and Kelabit tribes in Sarawak.