Traditional music a path to global recognition

Narawi at the talk show.

KUCHING: Sarawakian youth should engage in the traditional music industry if they intend to develop their talents globally.

“We are able to promote our culture abroad through traditional music, traditional dance and many more.

“Many music enthusiasts abroad prefer to listen to our traditional music because for them, the melody has a stronger ‘soul’ than other types of music.

“Therefore, there is an importance for our young people to learn traditional musical instruments in addition to modern musical instruments,” said renowned musician Narawi Rashidi.

“At Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV), we have a programme that can help youth showcase their talents globally, namely, the National Dual Training System (SLDN).

“In this programme, youth aged 16 and above will be trained and guided on traditional music,” he said in a talk show on Borneo Channel Facebook Live on Feb 6.

Elaborating, he said since 2013, SLDN had trained many apprentices, most of whom initially had no knowledge or skills in traditional music.

“After being trained in the right way for six months, some of them are now known abroad, and some of them, we take to work with us at SCV.

“For me, nothing is impossible if there is interest as talent can be polished.”

Speaking on his early involvement in the traditional music industry, Narawi said he initially only played the modern flute (iron flute).

“However, everything changed when I switched to the bamboo flute — the melody from this flute gives me more inspiration.

“Apart from that, before recognising the bamboo flute, I also used to play saxophone. However, after realising that foreigners are better at saxophone, I decided to learn how to play traditional musical instruments.

“When I first involved in the traditional music industry, I received a lot of criticism from the public — some said I was ruining the traditional music melody.

“I always accept every criticism with an open mind as I believe that there are still some communities that cannot accept creativity.

“For me, this music should be revived with modern elements but without changing its roots.”

On his achievements, Narawi said he and Tuku Kame had won various awards such as the MTV GrandPrix in 1998, the MTV Breakthrough Award (1998) as well as winning four golds at the World Championship of Performing Arts in 2009.

“We are very proud of these moments as our traditional music is already known by outsiders, and indirectly, this also gives a good position to Sarawakians in the traditional music industry.”

Narawi advised local musicians to not be discouraged despite the world currently battling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

In line with new norm practices, they could use various social and digital media platforms to showcase their latest work.