Artist Profiles: Kinabalu Merdu Sound

Kinabalu Merdu Sound at Rainforest World Music Festival in 2009 – Photo by Angel Romero

Kinabalu Merdu Sound is a world music band from Sabah (Malaysia). The band plays Sabahan ethnic music with bamboo musical instruments.

Kinabalu Merdu Sound’s roots began in 2001 with a modest group of 5. To reach its objective of reviving traditional ethnic music at the brink of extinction due to modernization, the band aimed to recruit school children and youth as its members. Kinabalu Merdu Sound’s efforts have been rewarded as the group has now grown into an assembly of 600 musicians.

This group has now performed throughout Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and the Rainforest World Music Festval in Sarawak. There have even been performances in Jakarta (Indonesia), Korea and Japan. Kinabalu Merdu Sound has emerged as champions in the national level ‘Ilham Desa” (loosely translated it means ‘countryside inspirations’) competition which was organized by the Ministry of Rural and Federal Development held on the 14th June 2007 at UPM in Selangor.

The use of the bamboo as a musical instrument in traditional music had its beginnings in 1945. Among the earliest instruments were the Tagunggak (percussion instrument), sompoton (wind instrument), bungkau (Jew’s harp) and gendang (drums). However, traditional music played with bamboo instruments was not the music enthusiasts’ favorite style at the time because it was a farmer’s past time and was played only during harvest festivals. The group has undoubtedly succeeded in changing this conception and begun to raise a widespread admiration towards the once-rejected bamboo melodies.

Discography

Muzik Tradisi Instrumental

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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