Monday, April 28, 2008

Keroncong in the midst

Updated: 3 May 2008

Dateline: Sunday 27 April 2008
Objective: Searching for Malay music at the Craft Centre at Jalan Conlay

Early this year, when we went to the Education Fair, while chatting with a lecturer from the International College of Music (ICOM), I lamented about the dearth of music notes for Malay songs. Arif and Akmal are so immersed in classical musics and they would have their fun in the sun browsing the music section at Kino, or for that matter any other book store in KL.

But we can't seems to find notes for Malay songs.

Don't get me wrong, one can find books selling guitar chords. This you can find in abundant in bookstore for the Malays like to strum the guitars by the roadside by sunset.

But one can't find those meant for piano (piano music sheets) or violin.

Sorry I digress.

To cut the story short, we were told by the lecturer to go to the Craft Centre at Jalan Conlay; so last week, we decided to head to the Centre despite being unconvinced of the validity of the information. Afterall, I thought the craft centre is meant for handicraft and music notes are not known as handicraft.

Lurking around the main hall where the gift shop is situated, we could not find anything resembling to what we were looking for. No gambus or other instrument was sold there. Asking the information counter, my apprehension was answered and the answer was an emphatic no.

However, since we were there, we took the opportunity to browse around at the artist colony.

The nice setting at the Centre - this is the artist colony.

First stop was Galeri Kantan where a husband and wife team work. Abu Hassan, specializing in abstract, while Shima specializes in kampung scenes in monochrome. We were taken by one brownish scene of a kampung house. If I have RM5,000 to spare I would commission her to paint one for us.

Nizar Kamal Ariffin of Galeri Anggerik on the other hand specializes in sculpting mask, which is not my cup of tea. But I must admit, while I love the music and I am glad that Arif and Akmal have in many ways satisfy my curiosity in music, I admire painters and artists.

One can find info on him here.

Artist : Nizar Title : Mask Series (Consciousness)
Size : 91cm X 91cm
Year : 2001
Medium : Acrylic on Canvas
Price : RM3800.00

I told him the real reason we were there - that is to find music notes. "Oh I see. I play in a keroncong outfit," he confessed, "and in July we are having a show at Bank Negara. If you are interested, I will invite you to the performance."

Music to my ears indeed.

"And I do have something for you. I used to train under Dr Arif Ahmad and I have a few books by him that you can have," he offered. It was a dream come true. Dr Arif Ahmad is a well known song writer (Mohon Kasih among others) and a keroncong advocate.

So he took out a signed book by Dr Arif Ahmad, complete with notes and lyric. Fantastic. What we have been looking for. I need to visit UKM or the Pekanbuku UM and buy the actual book.

So now we have in our collection notes on PRamlee's songs (2 books), Keroncong from Malaysia & Singapura, Keroncong Indonesia III and Keroncong by Ariff Ahmad.

Listening to Arif playing the songs on his German violin is a real pleasure. It is worth all the money I had spent on his piano and violin lessons not to mention on the instrument itself. All the screeching noise that he had made while practising his violin is now replaced with the beautiful melodies of the yesteryears many of which were made for the violin. You should listen Sri Bunian, Tunggu Sekejap, Ibu or Jeritan Batinku (PRamlee), Jauh jauh (Jimmy Boyle) or Kenang Daku Dalam Doamu. At times, Akmal chipped in and back the play with his guitar.

So the ICOM lecturer was right - that we would find beautiful music at the Craft Centre. Many of these artists are multi-talented. They can paint, sclpture and play good music.

Like M Nasir - he is such a good artist himself, while making beautiful musics.

I am so glad we made it to Jalan Conlay and will definitely be back to check out many other things worth my time there.

We were mesmerized by the wonderful tropical garden

And of course by this wonderful Marhaban group - the group in the background. Not the front two! I was never a fan until today.

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