This sample paper on Gambus Instrument offers a framework of relevant facts based on the recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body and conclusion of the paper below.

The Case of the Bambus The Story of the Gambus and its Evolution Yap Yuan Li Ben U0921231H AAI481 – Studies in Malay Music Nanyang Technological University The Story of the Gambus and its Evolution Introduction The gambus is an omnipresent and most commonly found lute instrument in the various styles of Malay folk music.

It is usually made from wood and is formed almost like a guitar but with 9 to 12 wire strings compared to the guitar’s 6 to 12 strings. There are two types of gambus, namely Gambus Melayu which is the Malay gambus and Gambus Hadhramaut which is the Arabian gambus.

Both of them originate from similar backgrounds with the Gambus Melayu a modification of the Gambus Hadhramaut. Today, the gambus is recognised as a national musical instrument of Malaysia and a symbol of Malay traditional music identity (Hilarian, 2006).

We will explore further in this essay the origins and evolution of gambus and its role in the Malay musical genre of zapin, hamdolok and ghazal. Gambus Melayu The slimmer and smaller pear-shaped gambus Melayu is comparable to the Yemeni qanbus. Its uniqueness is in its ornamented sickle-shaped carved pegbox that has emblems engraved into it (Hilarian, 2003).

Its body is made from jackfruit tree wood and it has a goat skin belly. The strings in gambus Melayu is attached and tuned precisely similar to gambus Hadramaut (Nik Mustapha, 1998).

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The gambus Melayu is frequently used in Zapin and Hamdolok performances in Johor (Matusky, 1985 as cited by Ang, 2005). The sounds of the gambus Melayu can also be heard in Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak, Indonesia and Brunei (Hilarian 2006). Gambus Hadhramaut The arched-back, pear-shaped Gambus Hadhramaut is quite similar to the classical Arabian ‘ud (Hilarian, 2003). It is made from a combination of ight wood like red meranti, a type of construction timber and durian belanda. The gambus Hadramaut does not have frets and the strings are plucked and attached in double course except the 11th string. The strings are tuned in perfect 4ths beginning from the highest string from the middle C (Ang, 2005). The Transition of the Gambus from Arab to Malay Culture Studies done by Hilarian (2003, 2007) theorized that in the 9th century, Muslim Persian conquerors and traders brought the barbat, an early form of lute instrument, into the Malay Archipelago during their migration to Southeast Asia for entertainment purposes (Sachs, 1940).

Zapin Music

This is supported by Alatas (1985) who claimed that many Persians and Indians traded in the rich port of Klang, Selangor. The barbat was then modified by Arabs in Mecca to ‘ud and qanbus in Yemen which explains why the gambus bears a striking similarity to barbat, ‘ud and qanbus (During, 1984) down to the tuning in perfect 4ths (Lambert, 1997). In the 16th century, Portugese traders introduced folk music, plucked and bowed stringed instruments to the people of Malacca. However they did not directly influence the introduction of the gambus to the Malay world.

The African, Indian and Moorish slaves present at that time integrated their influences of music together with the portugese instruments and created a fusion of music styles that included dondang saying and joget ronggang (Kartomi, 1997). Between the 17th and 18th century, the close ties amongst Johor, Riau and Aceh states via trade, commerce and inter-marriages provided a permeable barrier for gambus to enter the Malay world. Between the 19th and 20th century, the opening of Suez Canal expedited sea journeys from the Middle-East to the Malay world.

Many Arabs settled in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia from Hadhramaut (Yemen) bringing along the ‘ud (Alatas, 1997). Consequently, the eminence of gambus Hadhramaut succeeded the gambus Melayu in the late 19th or early 20th century in Peninsular Malaysia. The patronage of gambus by Malay rulers, spread of Islam and the cultural convergence of people facilitated dissemination and modification of the gambus throughout the Malay world (Hilarian, 2006). Uses and Evolution of Gambus

Both types of gambus are interchangeable and only one is played during a Malay ensemble performance like zapin, hamdolok and ghazal. They are usually the lead melodic instrument for these ensembles and are essential because the sound of gambus is linked to Islam and carries the essence of the Malay vibe. For example, gambus is played in Islamic singing and in taksim (solo performances) during Islamic events like Hari Raya Puasa and Haji. Moreover, the use of gambus associates the ensembles with particular genres of Malay traditional music (Hilarian, 2003, 2007).

Zapin Zapin is a form of traditional dance complemented with music by rhythmic characteristics and singing. It uses the voice, the gambus, violin, harmonium, accordion, marwas and dok (Ang, 2005). Anis (1993) asserted that zapin originated from Hadhramaut and is maintained in Malaysia in its original form, named zapin Arab and as a modified form, named zapin Melayu. The zapin Melayu in Johor today is a product of intermarriage of the Arab and Malay cultures literally with modifications by the Malay community over time (Hilarian, 2003).

Zapin songs reflect a blending of Malay and Islamic influences. Zapin Melayu has evolved from a group dance of solely males in zapin Arab to that of two separate rows of male and females. Adhering to the Islamic influence, the sexes do not touch during the dance. The entire zapin Melayu repertoire also reflects the love of the Malays for nature. The dance moves are inspired by chickens and fish and interpreted in stylistic refined movements including small graceful jumps. For instance, like a chicken with a broken leg (ragam anak ayam patah) or fish wriggling on mudflats.

The men and women dance without shoes and adorn themselves in traditional Malay apparels. The sarong is not tied but held throughout the performance reflecting the past Malay women culture in attempts to protect their modesty. Md. Anis (1993) however is concerned with the recent situation of zapin. He argues that any changes to zapin or any other Malay genres for that matter must be sensitive to its past and values. Historically, zapin Melayu was meant for play and family entertainment. Now, with it being showcased in performances, the dance moves are exaggerated and the production glamorized with special effects.

He frowns upon modern choreographs where females raise their arms too high thereby revealing parts of their arms. In addition, the attention of Malay performances today seem to focus more on fanciful costumes, superseding the beauty of the simple dance. The sarong is also hitched exposing the calves and knees, hence clashing with the original modest values of zapin. Hamdolok Hamdolok is a traditional dance theatre performance found in Johor, originating from the Middle East. It is performed during weddings and includes zapin and inang dance forms too.

Instruments used include the tambourine, maracas, conga drums and gambus Melayu (Asmad 1990). Today, the use of gambus Melayu sadly remains only in hamdolok. Ghazal Ghazal, a popular music genre in Johor, is formed from the fusion of elements from two or cultures and a modification of the shared features as aforementioned of the mix between various ethnic music influences. The word ghazal in Arabic means poetry of love and it aims to serenade. The ghazal originated from India and arrived in Johor from Riau-Lingga before 1870s.

Songs were formally sung in Hindi are supplemented by the sharinggi, sitar, tabla and harmonium (Ang, 2005). In Johor, ghazal has evolved. Johor players substituted the original sitar with the violin and sharinggi with gambus Melayu initially, and then with ghazal Hadramaut subsequently. Songs are now sung in Malay but still mirror its Hindustani and Persian influences prominently. The song titles are also uniquely Malay because they are written about nature and love. For instance, songs were written about the full moon and “Pak Ngah balik” meaning Pak Ngah has returned.

Today, modern ghazal groups also include instruments like mandolin, guitar, flute, Japanese drum and ukulele (Mohd Ishak, 1978, as cited by Ang, 2005). Is The Gambus Gaining Popularity? 18-year-old Fauziah Suhaili from Sabah, Malaysia who recently won the Gambus Fest Female Solo performance competition faced a mountain of challenges from the start. She had to gain approval from her elders as well as earn that trust to play the gambus. Fortunately, she has received much support from the gambus community in Sabah which enabled her to achieve so much (Fauziah, n. . ). However, especially in the states of Kelantan and Trengganu, these success stories are not as prevalent with the number of gambus female players dwindling. In 1950s, numerous female players in Johor contributed significantly to the music. However, in present times, women are limited to singing in traditional musical ensembles. Similarly, in Brunei, women are discouraged to play the gambus over the last 25 years. The school of Islamic practice in Brunei also generally dissuades women from playing music or performing with men.

Other than Fauziah Suhaili, it appears that our generation of youths are not interested in traditional Malay music like ghazal because of widespread dissemination of popular Western culture into the traditional music space (Hilarian, 2007). Conclusion Gambus in zapin, hamdolok and ghazal has evolved innovatively through the decades and is now an expression of Malay culture. The residual distinctive characters from its original forms are clearly evident but the profound changes allow it to be proudly called a symbol of the Malay traditional and contemporary music distinctiveness.

However, traditional Malay music has not received much support from the media, especially in Singapore unlike other styles like Chinese and Indian music which has deep roots locally and are always portrayed in media for awareness. The dominance of Western music, ideals and pop culture has intruded into the Singapore’s Malay community, infringing the space of traditional Malay Music. It will be a disaster if this dying art gets killed off in our generation and that beautiful traditional Malay music we take for granted so easily would be only a myth for our future generations.

Much support and efforts by the younger and older generation are needed in tandem with the media and government funding to revive this dying treasure back to its glory days. References i) Alatas, S. F. (1985). Notes on Various Theories Regarding the Islamization of the Malay Archipelago. Muslim World, 75, No. 3-4, 162-175. ii) Ang, M. K. (2005). Musical Malaysia. Retrieved October 28, 2009, from http://www. musicmall-asia. com/minni/index. html iii) During, J. (1984). In S. S. (Ed. ). The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. London: Macmillan Publishers Limited. v) Fauziah Suhailah/ Gambus (n. d. ). Fauziah Gambus. Retrieved October 28, 2009 from http://fauziahgambus. synthasite. com/ v) Hilarian, L. F. (2003). Gambus (lutes) of the Malay World- Its Origins and Significance in Zapin Music. Presentation of paper at A Symposium in Memory of John Blacking, 12-14 July 2003, University of Western Australia. vi) Hilarian, L. F. (2006). The Folk Lute (Gambus), and its Symbolic Expression in Malay Muslim Culture. Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore Studies XXXII. vii) Hilarian, L. F. (2007). The Migration of Lute-Type Instruments to The Malay-Muslim World.

Presentation of paper at the Conference of Music in The World of Islam, 8-13 August 2007, Assilah. viii) Kartomi, Margaret J. (1984) . Gambus.. The New Groves Dictionary of Musical Instruments, (ed. ) Stanley Sadie, London: Macmillan, No. 2, 9-10. ix) Lambert, J. (1997. La medecine de l. ame, Hommes et Musiques. Paris: Societe d. ethnologie, France x) Matusky, P. (1982). “Music from Malaysia. ” Resound. I/4: 1-2. xi) Matusky, P. (1982). “Musical Instruments and Musicians of the Malay Shadow Puppet Theater. ” Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society. VIII(1982): 38-68. ii) Mohd. Anis Md. Nor. (1993). Zapin-Folk Dance of the Malay World. London: Oxford University Press. xiii) Mohd Ishak Abdul Aziz. (1978). Ghazal. Kuala Lumpur: Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia dan Sukan. xiv) Nik Mustapha Nik Mohd. Salleh (1998). Alat Muzik Tradisional Dalam Masyarakat Melayu Di Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Kementerian kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Pelancongan Malaysia. xv) Pickens, L. (1975) Folk Musical Instruments of Turkey. London: Oxford University Press. xvi) Sachs, C. (1940). The History of Musical Instruments. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. Publishers.

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