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Brunei is a southeast Asian country located on Borneo between the states of Sabah and Sarawak which are part of Malaysia. There is a wide array of native folk music, and dance. The strong Islamic influence means that dance performances and music are somewhat restricted. Adai-adai is a group work song sung by fisherpeople while they fished. Another folk dance is the Benari , or Joget Baju Putih, performed during numerous festivals. It is usually performed by three men and three women.
The word Gulingtangan is synonymous with Bruneian culture. The traditional musical instrument is played mainly during religious functions or weddings, and is usually accompanied by other instruments, such as the gong, the tawak-tawak, the canang, and the gandang lambik. There is normally someone who sits behind this soothing-sounding instrument who would hit the notes in unison with the other instruments, along to familiar traditional songs. However, what if one injects a futuristic innovation into the traditional musical instrument? Working under the supervision of Pg Dr Iskandar Petra, the students hoped to prevent loss of valuable heritage by adding an innovative twist to the traditional instrument. After nine months of hard work, the team finally built a prototype that made its debut at the Pesta Konvo. With the guidance of Pg Dr Iskandar, Hirdy explained that the duo began work on the robotic Gulingtangan in December Simulating a human playing on the instrument, robotic arms were designed, which would swing the sticks and hit the gongs. Various research and surveys were conducted to find the material, which included visiting car dump areas looking for scraps that could be salvaged and used in the prototype.
The creation of musical instruments is also, in part, a product of humans living in their natural habitat, which makes native musical instruments an extension of their cultural origin. One thing is for sure — the natural environment has always been a source of inspiration for music in human civilisations, including the ones that we find on Borneo island. The angklung, for example, is made from many bamboo tubes which are attached to a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved to maintain resonance and come in different sizes to achieve different octaves. To play the angklung, the base of the frame is held in one hand while the other shakes the instrument.