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Singapore's National Anthem...Majulah Singapura!

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Sheryl Sim

on 2 January 2018

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Transcript of Singapore's National Anthem...Majulah Singapura!

What comes to your mind when you listen to
Majulah Singapura?

Pen down your thoughts on a piece of paper.

3 thoughts

2 questions
1 image
Journey in the footsteps of

Zubir Said,
the composer of

Majulah Singapura.
It's Time to Make a Stand!
'A country's national anthem should be changed according to the times.'
1. Walk to the corner that represents your stand. 2. Discuss with your peers in the same corner:
'What made you say / feel that?'
3. Let's hear different viewpoints!
(Strongly Agree / Agree / Disagree / Strongly Disagree)

Zubir Said was born on 22 July 1907 to a
penghulu adat

in Bukittinggi, Sumatra.

Passion for music was recognised and encouraged by his Dutch music teacher.

Learnt to sing from number notations

Skill of reading music from number notations enabled Zubir Said to compose music of his own.
Worked as a copy typist at a Dutch district office and played in keroncong bands in his free time

Joined a travelling keroncong band

Only member in his band who could read musical notation

Left for Singapore in 1928, causing his relationship with his father to be estranged.
"Changing our present national anthem would also mean a significant
re-writing of Singapore history."

Singapore's National Anthem...
Majulah Singapura!

Continue your own learning journey of

Zubir Said and Majulah Singapura.
Rohana Zubir (2012).
The Composer of Majulah Singapura.
Singapore : Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Publishing.
You may search for books through
National Library Board's online catalogue:
Singapore's National Anthem:
'Majulah Singapura'
12 August 1986: A member of the public wrote in to the newspaper to suggest a change of national anthem.


I used to think ...

Now I think ...
Pen down your thoughts / share your views with your friends:
'Majulah Singapura'
written for the City Council in number notation (1958)
'Majulah Singapura'
that was declared the National Anthem on 11 Nov 1959.
"It is not easy for me to compose a short and simple song...the words and music of which should contain the spirit, unity and progress of the people of Singapore. It is not a commercial song nor a romantic song. To me it is a prayer."

Zubir Said, on writing 'Majulah Singapura'
Majulah Singapura was sung for the first time officially on the day the first Yang Di-Pertuan Negara, Singapore's Head of State, was appointed.
Sing the two versions of 'Majulah Singapura' in solfa. Describe your musical observations.
- Mr S. Rajaratnam on why 'Majulah Singapura' has stayed as Singapore's National Anthem (1991)
"This use of Malay in the national anthem is symbolic. It represents our history.
Let us sustain it. It has served us well."

- then PM Lee Kuan Yew (1991)
1930s: Joined the


as a violinist, learning
the piano as well.
: Transcibed music from staff notation to
number notation


Extensive experience not only in Malay Opera,
but for art & music of the Chinese and Indians

1935 : Record producer at His Master's Voice (HMV)

1950 - 1960s: Composed songs for Malay films with
Shaw Brothers;
: Composed background music for
Malay films for Cathay-Keris

"Di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung"

"You should hold up the sky of the land
where you live".
Oral history interview with Encik Zubir Said
by the National Archives of Singapore, 1984.
Video Resource
The Soul of the Nation: the story of
Majulah Singapura.
Singapore, Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts
July 1958: Zubir Said was invited to compose a theme song for the City Council ('Majulah Singapura'), to mark the grand opening of Victoria Memorial Hall, Victoria Theatre in September.

August 1958: Establishment of the State of Singapore
(complete internal self-government)

Zubir Said consulted Paul Abisheganaden on the music and Muhammad Ariff Ahmad, an expert in Malay language, on the lyrics.

June 1959: Self-governing nation. 'Majulah Singapura' was chosen as the National Anthem of Singapore.
Did you Know?
Zubir Said was not yet a Singapore citizen when he composed 'Majulah Singapura', but his music and lyrics demonstrated the strong attachment and belonging that he felt towards Singapore.

Zubir Said became a full-fledged
Singapore citizen in 1967.
Arrangements of 'Majulah Singapura'
What are the musical considerations if you were to write a new arrangement for the National Anthem?

What existing arangements of 'Majulah Singapura' are available?

What are the guidelines in using the National Anthem?
Street Names:
Digital Newspapers:

Singapore Flag (public domain)
Sampan (public domain)
1991: Another member of the public wrote in to suggest a change in the National Anthem.

"Adjustments" had to be made to the national anthem, as many Singaporeans now did not understand Malay and thus did not have "strong feelings or strong sense of emotion when they sang the Anthem."
Zubir Said had a strong belief that school children and the community can learn to read music independently through music number notation.

SOLMISASI System: Learning music and singing using number notations
from 1-7.

April 1959: Published Pelajaran Menyanyi, Sistem SOLMISASI
(Singing lessons through SOLMISASI System)

February 1965: Published Book 1 'Membaca Musik', closely guided by syllabus for music for primary schools.
Learnt to make flutes

Formed a band with a few like-minded music loving friends.

Roamed the village, entertaining the villagers
Zubir Said passed away in 1987 at the age of 80 years.

Many local pioneers who have contributed to Singapore's growth have been recognised.

List a few places in Singapore that are named after pioneers who have
contributed to the nation.
Names behind street names:
Did you Know?
During Loyalty Week in 1959, one could dial '2' or '3' on the telephone to listen to and learn the National Anthem.
Source: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article/straitstimes19591204-1.2.20.aspx

300 children rehearse for the debut of 'Majulah Singapura', led by Mr Paul Abisheganaden, Straits Times, 27 Nov 1959:

National Anthem Scores & Recordings:
Played in a travelling keroncong band

Taught himself to play the violin
in the keroncong band

Leader of his keroncong band

Often doubled up as a guitarist,
flautist and kompang player
Zubir Said's father was invited to witness this
ceremony, which healed their relationship.

School of the Arts (SOTA) picture
Rohana Zubir (2012). The Composer of Majulah Singapura. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Publishing, p. 261.
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