Top pix-Fauziah Suhaili of Bongawan, Sabah (Brunai ethnic), and below insert, a male gambus player also from Bongawan

Faril Ali Malaysian musician-Photo credit: Star-ecentral.com

Gambus group of Kadayan ethnic from Lingkungan, Beaufort 

Gambus in Sabah

Materials on gambus can easily be found; even without me giving references most of you have no problem in locating them. The Internet.

What I wrote here is merely an introduction to those who have no idea about what gambus is.

Qanbus in Arabic is a replacement of Arabaian oud. Gambus that we know of in Malaysia was originally a musical instrument derived from Arabian Peninsula in particular, Yemen.

A nine and twelve stringed musical instrument, sounds like guitar, play by plucking with plastic plectrum. In the olden days the strings were wires as was guitar but now nylon is also used.

Gambus a shape of sliced pear, found its way to this part of the world-South East Asian nations: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei by Arab traders in 15th Century.

Other countries like, Africa, gambus is called in many different names such as, gabusi, gabbus, kabusa, and etc.

The well-known Malaysian musician who popularized gambus is Farid Ali from Muar Johore, a trained guitarist from Institute of Technology of California.

Farid Ali has been exploring many facades of gambus; among others he combined it with the Latin America music.

In Western part of Borneo, it’s the Malay communities of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei that play gambus.

In the olden days in Malay communities such as above, gambus playing was a must in any celebrations, like, wedding, circumcision and any occasions, which involved with entertainment.

It’s the music for zapin, joget, ronggeng, and etc.

There are several types of gambus in this region namely: gambus ghazal, gambus Johor, and gambus Brunei, and that naming seemed to be influenced very much by the Malay from Peninsula.

While in Sabah, gambus can be seen in many shapes too. The strings range only from six or eight, and a pair of strings represents one tune.

I am fascinated to learn that Fauziah Suhaili from Bongawan of Sabah who after only two years picking up gambus managed to produce a showcase and record debut on gambus.

Gambus players in Sabah are found in Sipitang, Lingkungan, Weston, Papar, Bongawan, Kimanis, and Membakut. Notice these places are predominantly where the Brunai (the people), Kadayan, and Bisaya (Sabah Bisaya) ethnics are residing.