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Bongai is a traditional folk song of Negeri Sembilan.  It can be sung as solo, duet or in a group.  Bongai used to be very popular in the Malay community of Negeri Sembilan, especially in big gatherings like weddings.  It is also performed for specific purposes, especially as entertainment during the evenings, after working hard in the day time.

Dikir Barat 

Dikir Barat is a group presentation from Kelantan. Each group is led by leaders known as the Tukang Karut and the Tok Juara.  Both of them take the lead in singing while responding to poetry (pantun) , followed by members of the group (awak-awak) singing in unison (chorus)  in powerful voices.

The musical instruments usually used in Dikir Barat are the rebana(drum) and tetawak (gong).


Boria is most popular in the northern states of Malaysia, especially in Penang. The origin of Boria was related to the Karbala incident, i.e. the killing of Saidina Hussein r.a. by Muawiyah Abi Suffian.

The Boria presentation has 2 segments, namely the comedian sketch (lawak jenaka) and singing.  There are no specific instruments used in the Boria presentation . The important aspect is the ability of the musicians to play music according to the rhythmic singing of the group leader ( tukang karang).

Dondang Sayang 

Dondang Sayang, literally meaning ‘love ballad”, is a presentation accompanied by traditional and modern musical instruments.

Dondang Sayang is believed to have originated from Malacca in the 15th century during the Malaccan Sultanate era.  The songs inDondang Sayang are in the form of poetry (pantun).  The skills and capability of the singers ( a male and a female) in exchanging extemporaneous pantun in a lighthearted and sometimes humorous style attract the interest of the audience.

Dikir Rebana 

Dikir Rebana has existed a long time ago and since then, there has been no changes.  The rebana (drum) is made from goat- skin and wood and the usual size is 24 “ or 2 ft.

The performers sit cross-legged and the rebana is placed above their soles.  In the olden days, Dikir Rebana is performed when the Ruler was about to go to bed or to pray.  Nowadays Dikir Rebana is performed in weddings.

Gendang Pahang 

This is a form of traditional arts with strong influence of Islam.  Gendang Pahang is believed to have initiated by Dato’ Purba Jelai and has passed down for 3 generations.


In the beginning, Ghazal was also known as “Gamat” meaning happy and lively. Nowadays Ghazal Melayu is more well known as Ghazal Johor. Ghazal was first introduced in the Riao-Lingga palaces.

Among the instruments used in Ghazal include a harmonica, one set of drums (tabla), gambus (lute), violin, gitar, marvas (drum) and tambourine. The Ghazal Johor musicians usually comprise 7 to 9 people, wearing Baju Melayu with songkok and thesamping.

Gamelan Music 

Gamelan was introduced to Pahang during the reign of Sultan Ahmad Muadzam Shah.  His consort Tengku Ampuan Wan Fatimah has promoted the gamelan music. This was followed by the Sultan’s second wife Che Bedah. Their daughter Princess Tengku Meriam married Sultan Sulaiman and brought gamelan to Terengganu.

This music is played in both formal and informal functions and also to accompany the Pahang Joget Dance.  The gamelan music is played by 9 male musicians , with 6 female singers.

Semelai Folk Music 

Semelai folk music is inherited from older generations but its music and songs have been slightly modified over the years. There are 2 types of instruments for this music, namely the rebana and the gongs (Gong Jantan dan Gong Betina).

This music is played in community halls during weddings, feasts, circumcision ceremonies and big gatherings for entertainment purposes. The music is accompanied by songs in the Semelai language.

Dances can be performed with certain conditions. The music is also used for medicinal purposes.

Updated:: 28/02/2020 [kamarulhelmy]