Folk Music of Singapore


Singapore is known the world over for its mixed cultural tradition which has left its indelible mark on every scenario of the nation, from language to district divisions to art. This accounts for the influence of the various cultures on what forms one of the most important arteries of Singapore - Music. Although Music from all genres exists in Singapore, it is the Folk Music of Singapore which is the primary crowd puller in the numerous cultural centers spread across this sunny land.

It is well known to all of us that Folk Music of any culture reflects the traditions and culture of the past, sometimes specialized by specific cultural groups.

Singapore being the home to a plethora of cultural groups which immigrated to this land down the years has seen the culture of these ethnic groups blending into its own existing culture. The music from each of these groups have existed and grown independently and today has become a major part of the Folk tradition and Folk Music of Singapore.

The ethnic groups which made prominent place in the musical world of Singapore have been Chinese, Indian Malays and Tamils. Apart from these, there are other minority Asian ethnic groups which too have made a mark in the Folk Culture of Singapore and these include Cantonese, Hokkien and Malay Bangwasan. On your visit to Singapore, you will inevitably come across the Folk Music which generated from these ethnic groups as many cultural centers and cultural associations frequently hold concerts and operas based of the Folk Music of Singapore.

Music has played a substantial role in making Singapore culturally rich and colourful that it is today. It is among of the most lively and vivacious cities in South East Asia.

Music has followed a developing trend in Singapore and is basically urban in nature pre dominantly by the genre of Pop and Rock music. Some of the renowned rock bands of the Island are the “October Cherries”, “Thunderbirds”, “The Crescendos” and “The quest”. The art centre of Singapore called the “Esplanade- Theatres on the bay” led to the creation of Islands multi genre music. It now hosts events such as gala concerts and Symphony Orchestra’s subscriptions. Additionally, this art centre served to ensure a depiction of traditional and classical music forms of the four major cultures of the Singapore. Festivals of Pesta Raya, Kalaa Utsavam and Hua Yi make sure that the interpreters of these diverse performances heard by the people on frequent basis.

The “Esplanade” also features three music festivals, one of which is “Baybeats” that helps in grooming and flourishing of local music in Singapore. The main purpose of this festival is to grow the local music, build audience and build awareness among the people of Singapore by discovering and grooming local talent. Baybeats is another festival which presents alternative bands of the region and allows audiences to get a hint of music outside Singapore which adds up to the liveliness and vibrancy of the festival.

Folk Music



The folk music of the nation has an ethnic component in it which includes Malay, Tamil and Chinese sounds. The melodious blend of English with Malay inspired tunes symbolises the “Peranakan” folk music of Singapore since Peranakans are usually acquainted with both these languages. Based on the Peranakans culture, modern tunes such as “Bunga Sayang” which is a theme song from “Kampung Amber” sung by Dick Lee continue to be written and created. This Song has contributed to the rich music of the city since it became an frequently sung song of the “National Day Parade” and it became internationally acclaimed after it was performed on of the opening ceremony of 117 IOC Session. Other songs that were created for National building endeavours of Singapore are “We are Singapore”, Stand up for Singapore” and “Count on me Singapore” etc.

The conventional Singaporean Malay folk music is basically of classified in five forms namely Joget, Zapin, Ronggeng, Masri and Asli each of them being quite diverse in terms of influence and pace. Whereas the Chinese music in Singapore is typically portrays experiences in China where the dancers occasionally carry props such as huge paper fans or authentic rice sieves.

Pop and Rock Music



After the “Blue Diamonds” performed in Singapore in 1960, the pop music began to grow popular in the nation. Thereafter, bands like the “Cliff Richard & Shadows” came and launched the “Beat Boom”. Similar to the other parts of the world British incursion led by “The Beatles” began in 1963. A few of the bands integrated singers while the others remained instrumental. Soon after, the British band “R&B” and laid a local Malay variety of music. Pop stars of that era include “Mike Ibrahim & the Nite Walkers”, “Naomi & the Boys”, and “Antarctics” etc.

The bands like “Sweet Charity” boomed in the year 1970s and initial years of 1980s. This band had a huge influence and impact on the Singaporean and Malaysian music that it later steered to a rock outburst in the mid 1980’s.

In the 1990s bands like “Humpback Oak” and “Concave Scream” brought along indie and alternative inspirations to the rock and pop music of Singapore.
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Related Links
  • Folk Music Singapore
  • Pop and Rock Music Singapore
  • Peranakan Singapore
  • National Day Songs Singapore
  • Music Industry
  • Male Singers Singapore
  • Female Singers Singapore
  • Music Bands Singapore
  • Musicians Singapore



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