P.RAMLEE BARBERSHOP QUARTETS: INTRODUCING AN AMERICAN STYLE OF SINGING THROUGH MALAYSIAN CULTURE
This research in progress examines the process of arranging songs by P. Ramlee for a barbershop quartet. Barbershop quartet music is a distinctively American style of singing, but it is a very “low-tech” genre to perform, requiring no instruments, no electricity, and only four singers. Because of this, the potential to teach or demonstrate the style to those who cannot support elaborate sound setups. Barbershop quartet music provides one of the foundations for jazz and popular music and incorporates traditional Western harmony (both very present in popular music). However, because of its “American-ness” in the language (English) and dialect (American English), barbershop quartet music is nearly absent in Malaysia. Because P. Ramlee songs form a similar foundation of music in Malaysia as barbershop quartet music does in America, this research project involves the arranging of P. Ramlee songs for barbershop quartet. The presentation describes the presenter’s past experience in arranging pop music for barbershop quartets, how the P. Ramlee songs are selected for a repertoire (artist-led, qualitative, and quantitative), a brief description of “Bunyi Barbershop,” an arrangement in progress, and a description of the ultimate goal of the research: a songbook of P. Ramlee arrangements for barbershop quartet. The book will also contain a brief description and introduction to barbershop quartet music with the intention of introducing the musical style to the
people of Malaysia through songs people know well.