On a mission to preserve ghazal

JOHOR BARU: His passion for ghazal, a type of Johor folklore music, has prompted him to provide free music lessons to children.

“When I was younger, I was exposed to various genre of music, including ghazal, from my family who is very music oriented.

“I used to watch and hear them play ghazal, which influenced me to pursue music as a career, ” said Raja Mohd Faliq Raja Adam, who owns a music shop named Yamaha Musikita.

Now, he hopes to nurture a love for ghazal among young children.

Raja Mohd Faliq, 36, said the idea of offering ghazal classes came about last year when he observed that very few people, in particular children, knew about this type of music.

“If there is no effort to preserve ghazal, then it will be lost to the next generation when most youngsters prefer to listen to modern music, ” he added.

Thus, he decided to offer the classes free of charge.

“What we are trying to do is to expose these children to ghazal, so they can be inspired.”

Raja Mohd Faliq said among the instruments used in ghazal include the harmonium, tabla, gambus (lute), violin, guitar, marvas (drum) and tambourine.

Ghazal musicians in Johor usually comprised seven to nine people including the singer, he said.

Raja Mohd Faliq said that he held an audition early this year.

It was attended by 38 children in the first round.

Eventually, he picked 18 of them to attend his ghazal classes.

He said the children, aged between eight and 15, came from various economic backgrounds and races.

And that is another reason why he loves music – it cuts across race and financial barriers.

Raja Mohd Faliq said the first class started in early March but he had to stop it for three months due to the movement control order (MCO).

“When we first started out, our students had never even heard about ghazal before but now, they can play and even sing a few ghazal songs although our classes are still new.

“This is Bangsa Johor at its best where all of us from different backgrounds and races come together to learn music, ” he said.

Raja Mohd Faliq said ghazal classes were conducted by in-house trainers as well as those from Yayasan Warisan Johor, which has been helpful to him in teaching ghazal to the youngsters.

The ghazal classes are held every first and third week of each month.

Each lesson is about six hours as they try to catch up on lost time.

(Prior to the MCO, the class was about two to four hours).

Raja Mohd Faliq said he was hopeful about organising a public ghazal concert for his talented students by the end of the year.

Besides ghazal, he noted that keroncong is also a folklore music that is popular in Johor but it originated from Indonesia.

“Ghazal is uniquely Johor, ” he said.

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