Music had played important roles in human history. At battlefields music was used to heighten idealism, sense of purpose and courage. At more sombre moments like funerals, music conveyed the emotions, either mourning death or celebrating life in the face of it. At weddings, the music of romance and merriment set the mood. Even religious rites and forms of worship relied on the conditioning of music to work up the devotional spirit. Of course music had always been an integral part of revelry and orgy right from ancient times to the present.
Hence I can understand and appreciate the recent development in Malaysia of encouraging the composing and broadcasting of a collection of patriotic songs. I would say some of the songs are indeed catchy, melodious, creative and inspiring enough, with good and relevant lyrics for nation building. It should be said though that the hook in a song, or in most songs, do run the risk of becoming a cliche. In fact I am given to understand that the hook ' 1Malaysia' is necessary element to put a song in good stead to win awards and the quite substantial cash prize.
Beware though, an overworked hook may spoil a song, the lyrics, turning a good composition into a cheap propaganda, quite akin to the commercials that often ruined our favourite shows! I dare say a truly inspiring song, with powerful, honest, politically disinterested lyrics can truly be even more inspiring.
More importantly, nation building demands truly great vision, political will and act of statesmanship. This is particularly so in a relatively new political entity, yet to be a nation in strict terms, as in the case of Malaysia. The forging of a nation out of divisive diversity, of true democracy out of demo-cracy, of genuine responsible freedom out of chaotic lunacy, of common destiny, demands nothing short of great leadership. Even then there is no guarantee of success in the stupendous task called nation building. Great leaders though, go down heroically and never for the want of trying or sacrificing.
I hope our Malaysian leaders could rise to the occasion in nation building, for we know, given the immense problems we face, the task is a bit more difficult and complicated than humming national songs, beyond symbolic political acts and campaigns. Had it been otherwise, we could all simply sing ourselves into a nation. Considering the manner we are going about in nation-building, we may well have to face the music of failure instead, with all its dire consequences!