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May 29, 2012

Dondang Sayang

Dondang Sayang - Melody of Love

Dondang Sayang is a form of singing poems, an art accompanied by its own unique orchestra.

Dondang Sayang, translated from Malay means "melody of love". Originating from the Malay community, it has been adopted by the Peranakans as an integral expression of their culture.

 A typical group is made up of 4 musicians who perform on the violin, 2 rebana and a gong or tetawak. The chief musician is usually the violinist who plays a primary role in dondang sayang, providing a counter melody to the vocal melody. Musicians may switch instruments in between performances, but the violinist seldom does, although this is permitted. If there are musicians to spare, up to 5 rebana may be used.

Sometimes, the rebana may be substituted by the tambour and barrel drum or even the kompang. The music is slow, and a song usually consists of 32 bars, beginning with a violin introduction, with the rebana and then the gong entering, and the voice finally entering in bar 5. Its style is somewhat informal and its lyrics usually consist of love poems. The musical instruments may also be augmented with an accordion.

It is a traditional Malay form of entertainment where Baba and Nyonya singers exchange extemporaneous Malay Pantun (poetry), in a lighthearted and sometimes humorous style. The singers are normally accompanied by a violin, two Malay rebana (drums), and a tetawak (gong). These instruments are often supplemented by other available instruments, most notably, accordions, flutes, or an additional violin.

Dondang Sayang group in Singapore in the 1950s
Dondang Sayang group in Singapore in the 1970s
 Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Indonesian archipelago of Nusantara during the Colonial era.

Most Peranakans are of Hoklo (Hokkien) ancestry, although a sizable number are of Teochew or Cantonese descent. Originally, the Peranakan were mixed-race descendants, part Chinese, part Malay/Indonesian.

The language of the Peranakans, Baba Malay (Bahasa Melayu Baba), is a creole dialect of the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu), which contains many Hokkien words. It is a dying language, and its contemporary use is mainly limited to members of the older generation. English has now replaced this as the main language spoken amongst the younger generation.

Dondang Sayang is a rich musical culture inherited by our Peranakan in Singapore.

My late elder uncle was a Peranakan while my elder auntie ('tua kim') was a Teochew.

While I was young, I have seen Peranakan language book published in English with many words in Hokkien.  At that time, I could not understand these book found in my Tua Kim's house at Kim Chuan Road.

Unk Dicko's blog "There is no pure race..we are all inter-related!" here .
We are all one race, Human Beings. We are evolving all the time, we are all brothers and sisters in One World, no matter what shade our skin happens to be.

A related blog on "Color the World with Photoshop" which I abhor the discrimination of people by the color of their skin with labels.

To my mind, all humans have only one color...and that is RED... the color of our human blood, and so of other living creatures ! It is the color of harmony as an united nation in an ideal world.

Whatever our race, nationality, tribe, dialect ... it is observed that people segregate "man-made labels" or groups by emotional or sentimental ties and disintegrate the community bonds as a society.


A photo with a young Bibi at the Peranakan Mansion in Penang

Please share Sharifah Aini's "Dondang Sayang" on "YouTube" and enjoy.



Blogger lim said...

A very relaxed and pensive form of singing. I bet it had some influence from Nan Yin (南音).

May 30, 2012 at 9:40 PM  

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