Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A Fake Live Band

A true live band

By Joe Chelliah

I am oftentimes amused by advertisements that proclaim “live” band performances in hotels, clubs or lounges with pictures of the band members posing admirably. What I get to see most often is a band that comprises of three lady singers front lining and another male or female behind a keyboard with a laptop at the side. Except for the vocals and the dancing, there is absolutely nothing live about the music. The music tracks played are produced through pre-programmed MIDI files that are easily downloaded from the internet and reproduced through laptops. The keyboardist usually pretends to play but probably would not know where the Middle C note is. This is what live music has become in Malaysia today. At times a live guitarist is added on.

Live music in the strictest sense of the word is music that is actually performed in real time by musicians and singers. Even the rhythms must be produced live. Live music is all that is opposed to any music reproduction of sound recordings from a CD, a DVD or any other electronic means. Live bands were performing from kampong weddings to five star hotels till quite recent times. There was a bubbly live band culture in the past in Malaysia. Even commercial recordings had live musicians performing unlike today. Such a true live band culture still prevails in the Philippines, Indonesia and India while it is dying out in Malaysia. Except for a couple of clubs, traditional music and the few orchestras including the “infamous” dangdut scene, live music in Malaysia is a thing of the past and dying if not already dead. What a pity and what a shame?