Sunday, 30 August 2009
Keroncong (pronounced “keronchong”) is a ukulele-type instrument and a Native Malaysian musical style that makes use of the keroncong and flute.
Most keroncong songs are performed by female vocalists.
The most famous keroncong vocalists in Malaysia include Datuk Julie Sudiro and Datuk Yusni Hamid.
“Keroncong” is an approximation of the sound of the rhythmic music form which is created by the interlocking of instruments.
Keroncong music runs faster than the often slow vocals, and is created, typically, by two ukuleles, a cello, a guitar and a bass guitar.
These instruments, especially the ukuleles, interlock as do the instruments in a Gamelan orchestra.
Keroncong music is a national heritage in Malaysia as well as its sibling countries Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Timor Leste and it has long been an influence in West European music.
One ukulele, called the cak (pronounced “chak”) is steel-stringed and its off-beat strums are accentuated.
The other ukulele, called the “cuk” (pronounced “chook”), is larger and may have 3 gut or nylon strings.
As a set the cak and cuk form an interlocking pair that gives Keroncong its characteristic “kron” and “cong” sounds.
The cello may have 3 gut or nylon strings and chords are plucked rapidly, often with a skipped-beat, using the thumb and one finger.
The guitar plays similarly to the cak and cuk. The bass is played in a minimalist style reminiscent of the large gongs in a gamelan.
The violin or flute are used to play introductory passages.
The vocalist sings the melody which, in traditional Keroncong, is slow with sustained notes.
Keroncong music began in the 16th century when Portugal conquered Melaka. The Portuguese introduced their Latin musical influences to the native Johorean people who in turn shared it with the Javanese people, their close neighbours.