Youth use modern musical instruments to spur ‘gulingtangan’ interest

National 2 minutes, 22 seconds


SOME youth are using modern musical instruments to save the traditional gulingtangan from becoming a thing of the past.

Nurul Farhanah Hj Suhaili, leader of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Orchestra Gulingtangan Varsity Club, said the group has started using guitars, bass guitars and the keyboard to combine with the gulingtangan in a bid to attract youth’s interest.

“I believe modernising the traditional culture would attract the youth because there is a mixture of music styles and modern instruments that blends and enhances the sounds,” she said.

In an interview, the Faculty of Social Science student said the majority of youth are not interested in playing the gulingtangan as part of Brunei’s traditional music culture.

The gulingtangan, which was historically used for royalty and nobility, consisted of a row of small horizontally-laid gongs that are accompanied by larger suspended gongs and drums.

Nurul Farhanah said being able to preserve the use of gulingtangan is important as it represents Brunei’s identity.

While acknowledging that modernisation could affect the traditional aspect of the gulingtangan, Nurul Farhanah and her group’s 13 members are making sure the traditional instruments would not be overshadowed by the modern instruments.

One of the initiatives the group had taken was using traditional beats and songs to showcase the beauty of traditional instruments.

“Even if you play modern music, the traditional music should never be left out… we are modernising it but still keeping it traditional,” she said.

Nurul Farhanah said the public are more interested when they see the gulingtangan group perform, and hopes more youth would be attracted to traditional music.

The group has also hosted workshops and performed at weddings, dinner and cultural events.

Meanwhile, the president of Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB) Gulingtangan Group Muhammad Siraj Munir Ahmad also believes that one way of attracting youth’s interest is to add other modern musical instruments.

“It is difficult to promote the traditional gulingtangan, a lot of people are not interested,” he said.

The student said there has been a decrease in gulingtangan players, which may be caused by the globalisation of music.

He said one of the evidences of the decrease in gulingtangan players was the reduced number of members at the ITB Gulingtangan Group.

The group began with more than 10 members in 2006, but that number has dropped to only seven members now.

“There aren’t many players now, every year we have around one or two new members but we have others leaving as well,” he said.

Muhammad Siraj said gulingtangan is an important part of local culture that must be preserved for the future.

He said awareness is needed to ensure the traditional music culture can be preserved.

“It is part of our local identity, all of us have to play a role and continue to promote it,” he said.

The Brunei Times