KUCHING: World music is not just about having a good time – it’s also about bringing back almost forgotten heritage through music.
During the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) press conference held at Damai Beach Resort yesterday, lead vocalist of Bargou 08, Nidhal Yayaoui, explained that their band focused on reintroducing the almost forgotten music of the Seliana region in the north west of their country of origin, Tunisia.
The Seliana region is isolated between the mountains and the Algerian border, a feature which Yayaoui said helped preserve its musical traditions, but also prevented it from spreading beyond that region.
“One instrument that we added to our music is an instrument that used to exist in our area but later disappeared,” he said, explaining that it was called the ‘wtar’ from the lute family, equivalent to our own sape.
For Gaga from Georgian band ‘Alaverdi’, their folk songs have almost become a thing of the past.
“I remember my parents telling us about the time of the Soviet Union, as this music was not restricted but it was shameful to sing Georgian folk music and people laughed,” he said.
Their folk music was rescued when a few musicians opened up two schools to teach folk music to young children.
For Alaverdi, a four-piece ensemble specialising in not just Georgian folk music but also church hymns, Gaga says that it is the band’s mission to not only perform this music but also to preserve it.
Coming from one of the 16 indigenous tribes in Taiwan, Sangpuy explained that music was their way to continuously remind themselves and future generations of their oral traditions.
“We have different languages but we don’t have our own written words so we use music to tell our stories. Music is basically not just for fun and entertainment but it also teaches us the way of life,” he said.
Sangpuy, a name bestowed upon him by his grandfather, also shared that he was taught that the younger generation must know about their heritage, history and origin through music.
The press conference on the second day of RWMF saw Korrontzi (Basque Country), Le Blanc Bros Cajun Band (Australia/New Zealand), Ndima (Congo), Sangouy (Taiwan), Kobagi Kacak (Indonesia), Bargou 08 (Tunisia/Belgium) and Alaverdi (Georgia) speaking to both local and international media.
The 18th edition of RWMF features 24 musical groups performing at Sarawak Cultural Village this year.