Malay Music in Singapore

Basic Melody

Malay Malay traditional music do not have tuning standards. Usually, the musical scale used is 7-pitches (heptatonic) or 5-pitches (pentatonic).

Musical Instruments

Percussion instruments are the most important instruments in malay music. They are divied into two: tuned and untuned. The tuned instruments are usually xylophones, while the untuned ones are usually membranophones.


Contary to popular belief, gamelan is not a musical instrument. instead, it is a malay musical ensemble. The instruments used are xylophones and gong-like instruments.


steel xylophone with 6 steel keys, used for main melody


a set of gongs used to accompany main melody


a xylophone used to accompany main melody


used to mark the phrase of melody


used to keep tempo of melody

Other Instruments


Malay reed wind instrument. The body has 7 front finger holes and 1 at the back.


a type of flute made of bamboo. It can be used both to play the melody or for accompaniment


Wooden trumpet, usually used in Malay folk music


It is used to accompany songs or dances.


A string instrument with 2 - 3 string. It is used to accompany strorytelling or wayang (puppet) show.

Orkestra Melayu Singapura ( Singapore Malay Orchestra)

Orkestra Melayu Singapura (OMS) was formed on 1991. Its puprose is to preserve and promote malay music in Singapore . The orchestra combines western music techniques and traditional malay music techniques. OMS has been well-received both in national and international level. The orchestra has performed more than 500 times in major national and community events. They also has performed in Indonesia, Japan and Korea.

OMS (Youth)

The OMS (Youth) was formed in 2004. It has the same purpose, which is preserving and promoting malay music in Singapore, through introducing malay music to youths. The OMS (Youth) is active in introducing malay music to schools (primary, secondary, junior college, polytechincs and institutes of technical education).