The dondang sayang or love ballad, originated in Melaka sometime in the 15th century. A typical group is made up of 4 musicians who perform on the violin, 2 rebana and a gong or tetawak. The chief musician is usually the violinist who plays a primary role in dondang sayang, providing a counter melody to the vocal melody. Musicians may switch instruments in between performances, but the violinist seldom does, although this is permitted. If there are musicians to spare, up to 5 rebana may be used. Sometimes, the rebana may be substituted by the tambour and barrel drum or even the kompang. The music is slow, and a song usually consists of 32 bars, beginning with a violin introduction, with the rebana and then the gong entering, and the voice finally entering in bar 5. Its style is somewhat informal and its lyrics usually consist of love poems. The musical instruments may also be augmented with an accordian.
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