Sarawak music tough sell on global market
SARAWAK ETHNIC MUSIC may seem popular among tourists that come here but on the global market, it’s actually a hard sell, said Narawi Rashidi, leader of the Gema Seribu band that performed at the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2014.
“Sarawakian traditional and world music is currently facing several problems in an effort to promote and sell it since there are not many buyers around and although there are music festival such as this, we might be surprised that most of those who came are not real followers of the world music.
“I have tested the market by doing it online too only to found out that the purchasing is very slow and only musicologists are interested to listen and purchase our music,” he commented when interviewed on Saturday at Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV).
Narawi is a music arranger and composer for SCV and he is currently the leader of two renowned bands, Gema Seribu and Tuku’ Kame’.
Tuku’ Kame features renowned sape player, Jerry Kamit and combines traditional music from various ethnic groups in Sarawak, including the Iban, Bidayuhs, and Melanau communities among others.
In his continuous effort to tackle the problem of Sarawak world music and promote it actively, Narawi founded Gema Seribu last year, which consists of dance and music apprentices of the National Dual Training System, Department of Skill Development at SCV.
“Gema Seribu is different from the other bands in Sarawak since our approach in music is more towards the involvement of youths in traditional and fusions of modern music.”
Gema Seribu is the band with the most members at this year’s festival, with at total of 43 on stage, comprising of dancers, percussionists, drummers, sape and accordion players.
During their performance on Sunday June 22, they did four repertoires, beginning with ‘Puteri Santubong’, followed by Malay and Selako folk songs, Zapin Fusion, and lastly, ‘Gema Paluan Seribu’ a performance to showcase the talents of the members by beating on about 20 bedoks (about 20 of it) accompanied by song and dance.
Narawi also noted that today’s younger generation aren’t really interested in playing traditional musical instruments.
“If I were to tell the youths just to play the Sape, I don’t think they would come and join us, since they are more towards the mainstream music such as pop and rock, so in order to go along with their interests in music, we need to prove to them that this traditional musical instruments such as Sape’ and Bedok can be played in modern music too,” he said.
Currently, the members of the band ‘Gema Seribu’ are mostly youths still under training for Level 3 in Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia. Narawi hoped that after that, they would go out and promote traditional and ethnic music to their friends as well to the rest of the world and hopefully become music teachers at kindergartens, villages or clubs around Sarawak then continue to pursue a Diploma in Music in future.
Currently, the band’s mission is to go to schools around Kuching and promote their daily and monthly workshops. He hoped that in near future, they will receive requests on recordings to further develop the talents and promote Sarawakian traditional and ethnic music for the listening pleasure of music lovers around the world.