Ms Syafiqah ‘Adha Sallehin
Ms Syafiqah ‘Adha Sallehin
Music Director,
Gendeng Akustika, Singapore

Syafiqah 'Adha Sallehin achieved her Bachelor’s degree in Music (with Honours) and her Masters of Music, both in music composition, from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in 2013 and 2016 respectively. As a composer, Syafiqah’s works have been performed locally and internationally. Her music embodies a unique voice that stems from her footing as a classical-trained musician and a traditional arts practitioner. A passionate advocate of traditional Malay music, she is a self-taught accordionist in this genre and is the music director of Gendang Akustika, an urban-based Malay folk music ensemble in Singapore. Established since 2009, the ensemble endeavours to champion for the preservation and progression of urban-based Malay folk music performance and education in Singapore. It is currently working on its online presence through digital content that bridges communities and reaches out to new audiences in the effort of keeping a part of Singapore’s traditional arts and heritage alive.

Track 1 Discussion: 
Harnessing Youth Potential in Crafts and Performing Arts

Of Adopting and Adapting: Youths and the Continuity of Urban-based Malay Folk Music in Singapore

While traditional Malay music is an all-encompassing term which refer to the numerous musics of the Malay people, urban-based Malay folk music can be used to refer to the folk music that has devloped and is practiced by Malay people in urban communities. This music comprises of dance music or songs related to the genres of Asli, Inang, Zapin, Joget and Masri. Malay folk music dates back to as early as the reign of the Malacca sultanate in the 15th Century, and has gone through years of evolution and assimilation with musical elements of other cultures to become the syncretic form of music that it is today.

The practice of urban-based Malay folk music has developed through many forms in history, from music that accompanies dance in rural community conventions, to staged Malay opera or bangsawan performances. In recent times, urban-based Malay folk music also stood solely on its own, seen as a commodity in the wedding entertainment service industry within Malay communities. In Singapore, the demand for live Malay folk music performances for weddings saw a steady rise since the end of the 20th Century, only now to be seriously threatened by the Covid-19 pandemic, amongst other inevitable factors.

As with many other intangible cultural heritages, the continuity and survival of traditional Malay music in Singapore is dependent upon the youths of today. In my sharing, I endeavour to bring to light observations and challenges posed on youths and the urban-based Malay folk music scene in Singapore in the work towards ensuring sustainability of the artform. My talk revolves around the synergies between adopting and adapting in the following sub-topics: I. Adapt to Adopt: Learning the Trade, II. Adapt to Adopt: Staying Relevant and Embracing 21st Century Communications, III. Adopt to Adapt: Building a Sense of Identity and An Ecosystem for Sustainability.
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National Heritage Board