The Malay Nobat

For anyone interested in the musical heritage of Malaysia, The Malay Nobat features articles and research about the royal orchestra used by the regional Sultans. From the website:

Malay Nobat

Nobat is a court orchestra played in Malay palaces as a symbol of power and sovereignty. No Malay sultan is legitimately installed unless he is drummed to the sounds of the nobat. Currently there are four nobat ensembles found in Malaysia, in the states of Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Terengganu. The other known Malay nobat which is still active is found in Brunei, a small oil-rich country sandwiched between the states of Sarawak and Sabah in East Malaysia. Nobat is also known to have existed in the ancient Malay sultanates of Pasai (now Acheh), Patani (Southern Thailand), Riau and probably other small provinces in Sumatera, Indonesia.

Raja Iskandar, the author behind the blog is a researcher currently looking into the Nobat of the Perak Sultanate. I was first drawn to the site because of the mention about the Nobat in the Malay Annals, a valuable quasi-historical account about the history of the Malacca Sultanate. The site also features short video clips of the Nobat performances, which are very rare because such music is very ritualistic and considered sacred.

Related Books:
The Music of Malaysia by P. A. Matursky and S. B. Tan
The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Performing Arts

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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