Singaporean Drum Ensemble

April 24, 2019 - 8:00pm
Siva Sakthi Muniandy Urumi Melam (Tamil Hindu drum ensemble from Singapore)
Irvine Auditorium, Cafe 58, 3401 Spruce Street


Since the 1980s, a “new” percussion ensemble using very old South Indian percussion instruments—including the thavil and urumi—has spread like wildfire amongst the Tamil Hindu diaspora in Malaysia and Singapore. The ensembles, called urumi melams, are now ubiquitous at Hindu festivals in the region. The groups are composed largely of Tamil youths who drum with frenetic energy and play devotional music for Hindu deities like Murugan and Muneeswaran. In Singapore, they also play at Chinese Taoist festivals and with Chinese “Lion Dancers” at events like Chinese New Year. Siva Sakthi Muniandy Urumi Melam are perhaps the best known urumi melam in Singapore. The group will be touring as a seven-drummer unit; they will play their vibrant devotional songs and also some popular songs (such as Tamil film songs) that they perform at weddings and non-religious occasions.


The group’s tour is funded by the University of Pennsylvania’s South Asia Center and organized by Department of Music Assistant Professor Jim Sykes, who does fieldwork with the group.