Street Musician in Melacca Singing ‘Sukiyaki’

  • Street Musician in Melacca Singing ‘Sukiyaki’ 00:00

It was a Saturday night in the historic city of Malacca. Among various cities in Southeast Asia, Malacca is one of the cities that have many stories in the past. Due to its strategic position as a trading port, this area was fought over by various colonial powers. After the Portuguese conquered this city in 1511, Melacca continued to move from one power to another. Namely, the Dutch colonial in 1641-1798, then the British colonial in 1824-1942, Japanese occupation in 1942-1945 before finally becoming part of the Malayan Union in April 1946.

Now, Malacca is no longer contested. There are no more sounds of war and busy merchant ships, as in historical illustrations and artefacts left in the Melaka museum. A remaining number of European cannons were strewn by the fort of A Portuguese Famosa and around Christchurch. I can only imagine Malacca was once filled with the sounds of war cannons, explosions, pistols, cheers of war besides the noise of the traders and the people around the Bandar.

Now Malacca, which is full of historical buildings, has become one of the favourite tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. In 2008 the Malacca was named as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The tourists from various countries packed Malacca every week. Quoted from the Malaysian government statistics in 2017, tourists in Melaka reached 16.79 million.

When I walked through Malacca on Saturday night March 16, 2019, I found that the soundscape in Malacca was full of the sounds of tourists from various nationalities who were taking pictures in front of various buildings, then the sound of tourist Pedi cabs playing loud music on the loud streets of Melaka, aside from the sound of motorcycles and cars. Malacca was noisy on Saturday nights.

I decided to record and observe the soundscape in the front area of Christchurch Melaka. This church was completed by the Dutch colonial authorities in 1753 and is now no longer used. One of the sound that I recorded was the sound of street musicians that sang and played guitar and harmonica instruments. He sang various popular songs to entertain tourists passing by and his music amplified by a portable sound amplifier and speaker. It was not too loud and not too quiet. One song that was sung was Sukiyaki, a Japanese song popularized by Kyu Sakamoto released in 1961. This song felt really sentimental being among the historical buildings in Malacca. The soundscape also included sounds of water flowing from the Queen Victoria Fountain which was built in 1901 by the British colonial government. Then the noise of the crowds of tourists who celebrated the night in Malacca.

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