Zubir Said is best-known for his invaluable contribution to Singapore by composing the national anthem, the "Majulah Singapura". He is believed to have written about more than 1000 songs with less than 10% of them ever recorded.
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Zubir Said. The iconic name. The lyrical genius. The man behind the concoction of Singapore’s National Anthem, Majulah Singapura.
He composed lyrics that was unlike any other. It’s frequently blasted via the school speakers before sunrise. However, I realized I’ve never read the lyrics to analyze or comprehend what were we actually singing about. Hence, I decided to do so.
I was amazed. Lyrics usually contains obscenities or colourful vocabularies. This one has neither. Tracks without either one of those aforementioned would usually struggle to thrive. This one, Majulah Singapure, even succeeded to be bestowed as an official National Anthem! The tune that goes along with the inspirational lyrics was perfect too. It wasn’t too corny or cheesy. It wasn’t too technologic either. It wasn’t too fast paced. Nor is it too slow paced. It was a tune that seemed to cater to people from all walks of life. It succeeded in unleashing the patriotism spirit within anyone who heard it even without comprehending or Google Translating it. Truly marvelous!
National Song, National Pride
"Who knows who wrote our national anthem?"
Forced to be patriotic to our nation by singing the national anthem every morning before school, it was no wonder that no one could be bothered to learn who wrote the national anthem. In fact to be even more brutally honest, many of my classmates thought it would be pointless learning who wrote the national anthem.
I thought so too, but thinking back on that, it is only right that we think about our national anthem as part of our identity and sing it with pride. And if we were to take it upon ourselves to have a sense of rootedness to Singapore through the inspiring song that has been taught from generation to generation, then shouldn't we recognise the man that wrote the song that teaches us to look forward as a nation? Shouldn't we, as citizens, recognise the talent that we have? And shouldn't we, as citizens, take time to understand the true meaning of what being a Singaporean means before taking the national anthem as a chore?
Pak Zubir composed our National anthem with the intention to inspire loyalty to the country that we belong to. It also had the message of working towards harmony and progress and as an anthem I am proud of it. Musically simple, its very magic is its sheer simplicity that unites people despite language differences. Lyrically, the Malay words are so simple and it could actually be used as a crash course in conversational Malay.
Pak Zubir of course had many other songs credited to him. He was a composer for Cathay Keris and fans of old Malay movies would note that he was credited with countless number of compositions.
The only pity is that Pak Zubir was not honoured enough when he was still alive though it is usually in death is only someone truly great remembered. Now, Pak Zubir has a road named after him but in my opinion is not enough. Perhaps, in line with his gift perhaps a scholarship or award named after him could be awarded to deserving young musicians looking to further their musical education?