Selangor

Rentak Selangor 4 – Discovering Selangor’s Rhythm and Soul

It is heartening to see that many youngsters and youths were involved in the performances, indicating that ethnic music and culture are actively passed on to the next generation and kept alive in Selangor.

Rentak Selangor 4. Photo by Nurul Syifaa Ramlan.

It is heartening to see that many youngsters and youths were involved in the performances, indicating that ethnic music and culture are actively passed on to the next generation and kept alive in Selangor.

Selangor is a progressive and well-developed state that surrounds Kuala Lumpur. Different ethnic groups make Selangor their home and uphold their own identity, culture and traditions, making Selangor an interestingly unique place for travellers to explore.

In October 2019, Selangor State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) and Gaya Travel Magazine organised the programme to highlight the intangible heritage and performing arts called Rentak Selangor for the fourth time (RS4), drawing from the Chinese, Indian, Malay and Orang Asli (Temuan Tribe) communities who dwell in the Selangor. Selected representatives from the media, including bloggers and influencers, participated in this three-day and two-night programme to experience Selangor’s beats and sounds.  

Due to the availability of international popular music, people start to turn their heads away from those that are more traditional. Interestingly, during this programme, it is heartening to see that many youngsters and youths were involved in the performances, indicating that ethnic music and culture are actively passed on to the next generation and kept alive in Selangor.

What traditional performances that you can catch in Selangor?

CHINESE BEATS

PMO Chinese Orchestra

PMO Chinese Orchestra
PMO Chinese Orchestra. Photo by Nurul Syifaa Ramlan.

The RS4 participants were brought to Catholic High School Petaling Jaya to witness an awesome orchestral performance by the students using Chinese musical instruments based on the structure and principles of the western symphony orchestra. Using instruments such as erhu, pipa, dulcimer and bamboo flute, this orchestra is divided into four sections: wind, plucked strings, bow strings and percussion. Catholic High School Petaling Jaya takes the initiative in helping to ensure that the art of playing traditional Chinese musical instruments endures in Selangor.

GLOSSARY:
Erhu = a two stringed bow Chinese musical instrument, also known as the Chinese violin or Chinese two-stringed fiddle.
Pipa = a four-string Chinese musical instrument, also known as Chinese lute.  
Dulcimer = a plucked string instrument played using rubber tipped sticks.

Wushu

Turning martial arts into a visual art form, the audience were captivated by the energetic and vigorous performance by the students of Catholic High School Petaling Jaya’s Wushu Club. Wushu was developed in 1949 in an effort to standardise the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts. The modern concept of wushu were fully developed by the Ming and Qing dynasties. In wushu competition, formats and rules were formalised, and teaching methods and materials were standardised. A few types of wushu performances that can be seen are Wushu Weapons, Double Weapons, Flag, Double Taiji Sword, Trio Taiji Broadsword and Trio Taijiquan.

24 Seasons Drum

24 Seasons Drum
24 Seasons Drum performance, whereby the name of each season is written in Chinese calligraphy on each of the drums. Photo by Nurul Syifaa Ramlan.

This is a Malaysian musical performance invented back in 1988 by a music teacher, Tan Hooi Song, together with a poet, Tan Chai Puan, at Foon Yew High School in Johor. As its name suggests, this performance by Catholic High School Petaling Jaya’s students consists of 24 large drums called shigu to represent the agricultural seasons according to Chinese Calendar. The performance depicts movements of farmers and activities at a farm. The name of each season is written in Chinese calligraphy on the drum. It is then played by striking two wooden sticks onto its surface, sides or hitting the two sticks together.

Good to know: Each colour of the shigu carries a special meaning such as red means auspiciousness and passion; black means perseverance; yellow means Chinese culture and tradition.

INDIAN BEATS

Kolattam Dance

This is a traditional dance originated from India. In the past, the dance was performed solely by women; however, the dance now is performed by both men and women and popularly performed during festivals. Kolattam means ‘pattern’, whereby the performers dance about in pairs, following their leader’s movements while holding and moving two sticks. This dance combines rhythmic movements, songs, and music. The minimum number of dancers required to perform Kolattam is four people, while maximum is 20, but it could be more depending on the availability of space. Dancers don traditional attire when performing. Instruments use for this performance are Thavil, Phambai and Urumi.

T: +6 012 2108724 (Ruben) / +6 016 3611533 (Ravi)

MALAY BEATS

Kuda Kepang

Kuda Kepang
Dancers straddling on mock horses during a kuda kepang performance. Photo by Nurul Syifaa Ramlan.

This traditional dance, performed by Selangor State Cultural Council during RS4, originated from the island of Java and gives chills the moment you hear the music playing, especially at night. This dance is usually performed by nine up to 15 male dancers. The leader, called ‘Danyang’, leads the dancers by using a whip. Each dancer sits astride a mock horse made from braiden strips of woven bamboo, decorated merrily with beads and sequins and painted in bright colours. This dance portrays a troop of riders riding horses.

Caklempong

This traditional percussion music, performed during RS4 by a troupe named Suara-Suara Otai, were brought to Malaysia by the Minangkabau people who hailed from West Sumatra. It first reached Negeri Sembilan, but now has spread throughout the country. This music is also taught in schools and universities as part of the co-curricular activities. Caklempong ensemble comprises bamboo flute, gereteh (a collection of brass gongs that are struck by a performer to produce melody), sauwa (a collection of brass gongs that are struck to produce bass), tingkah (a collection of brass gongs that are to produce rhythm), rebana (drum) and gong.

Silat Cimande

Silat Cimande
Silat Cimande. Photo by Nurul Syifaa Ramlan.

There are several types of silat (Malay martial art), and this time the participants of RS4 were introduced to Silat Cimande, one of the oldest silat originated from West Java, Indonesia. People learn this martial art to protect themselves and their families from danger, especially marauders. Interestingly, this silat demands the practitioner to take the moral high ground such as obeying the Almighty (Allah), always respect their parents, never gamble or steal, and duly pay their debts, among others.

T: +6 010 4258696 (Yahya bin Abdullah Husin)

Tor-Tor dance

This traditional dance – performed during funerals and to heal the wounded – originated from the Batak Tribe of North Sumatera. These days, the dance is performed for entertainment purposes by showcasing hand movements and body gestures as a way to communicate. As the dancers move their hands, they have to make sure that the positions of their hands are never higher than their shoulders. During RS4, this dance was performed by Bougainvillaea Homestay Kampung Sungai Kertas Cultural Group.

Keroncong

During RS4, the participants were serenaded by keroncong performance by a group called Orkes Keroncong Arif Lukisan (OKAL). It began to flourish in the Malay Peninsula beginning from 1930s due to the increasing number of labourers who hailed from the island of Java and brought keroncong with them. After World War II, numerous Malay keroncong songs became more popular. The most famous one is by P.Ramlee entitled ‘Nak Dara Rindu’. The word keroncong was derived from the ‘chrong chrong chrong’ sound made from the ukulele-like instrument. Keroncong ensemble consists of a vocalist who sings the melody in slow stagnant notes, often in vibrato style, backed up by flute, violin, two ukelele (four-stringed chak and three-stringed chuk) guitar, double bass, and cello.

Joget

Originated from Malacca, this traditional dance intends to spread happiness to its audience, where people usually can’t help but dance and clap along to the beat upon hearing the music. The dance is believed to be brought by the Portuguese when they came to Malacca. It is normally performed by couples during a wedding ceremony and during cultural functions. The most well-known joget is ‘joget lambak’, this vivacious dance lures spectators to dance along. During RS4, as the dancers from Selangor State Cultural Council performed the joget, they eventually invited all participants to dance along and join in the fun.

ORANG ASLI BEATS

Sewang Bahbola Dance

Sewang Bahbola Dance
Sewang Bahbola Dance. Photo by Nurul Syifaa Ramlan.

It is easy to see that everyone has a good time when dancing along with the Orang Asli of the Temuan tribe as they are invited to join in. During RS4, the participants learned how to dance the sewang and play the Orang Asli instruments. This dance usually performed during thanksgiving ceremony, funeral, or even to treat the sick or wounded using the shamanistic way accompanied by live singing and rhythmic music produced by hitting bamboos. The dancers first start in a circle and then they spread out. These days, this dance is performed mainly for entertainment purposes. Travellers can witness this dance when they visit the Orang Asli Museum in Gombak.

T: +6 03 61868796

Where else to visit in Selangor?

Arulmigu Sri Ayyappa Swamy Devasthanam Temple in Batu Caves

Fascinated by the place, everyone was pleasantly surprised to find this hidden gem in Batu Caves, which is less popular and not widely known compared to the other Batu Caves temples. It may look small from the outside, but once you enter, you will be surprised by its actual size, which is impressive. The next time you’re in Batu Caves, do visit this remarkable temple!

Morning worshipping time:
Abishegam (starts at 5:30 a.m. and closes at 12 noon)
Nithya Pooja (starts at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 12 noon)

Evening worshipping time:
Abishegam (starts at 4:30 p.m. and closes at 9:30 p.m.)
Nithya Pooja (starts at 6:30 p.m. and closes at 9:30 p.m.)

Anjung Spotter, KLIA 

This new attraction at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is the place where aviation enthusiasts and photographers should head to for aircraft or plane spotting. This is the place for you to get an unobstructed view of aircrafts taking off and touching down at KLIA, triggering the wanderlust in you.   

Where to stay?

Dusun Bonda

This property offers small privately-owned villas and bell-tent glamping site set within a tranquil fruit orchard. You don’t have to drive all the way to Pahang to experience nature, but instead head to Dusun Bonda in Batang Kali, Selangor. Staying here makes you feel like you are really surrounded by nature. You can also take a dive in the refreshing stream and enjoy the lush surroundings. Dusun Bonda provides children-friendly facilities, man-made waterfall and pool as well. The place looks magical, especially at night when the lights are switched on.

Important to know: Internet connection is weak here, so make the most of your time by appreciating nature and bonding with the other guests.

T: +6 012 6633667

This article is featured in Gaya Travel Magazine 14.4. Read other contents HERE.

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