The Incantation of Ulek Mayang is based on the melody that accompanies the chanted text and dance for Ulek Mayang (entreat of the sheaves of the Areca palm flowers). The ritual chant describes the scenes of the ritual. During which, flowers are given as an offering to seven princess sisters. The sisters are asked to spare the lives of a fisherman and travelers on the open seas.
According to the legend, a princess placed a spell on a fisherman which rendered him immobile. A bomoh (shaman) was brought to use his magic to revive the fisherman. A war ensued between the princess and the bomoh. The Princess called upon her siblings to help fight her war. With each sister’s arrival, the battle grew until the arrival of the seventh sister, who was the eldest and wisest. Analogous to the legend, the piece consists of seven variations of the melody and in each repetition for character and subtleties.
Finally, the decision to let the fisherman go was agreed upon with the condition that colored rice and flowers be left as an offering. In adherence to customs of Malay culture, this work should not be performed near the ocean, at dusk (senja), nor should the piece include all seven rounds performed with the text. By doing any of these you might call upon and manifest the seven sisters. Legend says, if they come they will possess you and possibly take your life. Indigenous Malays believe at least one participant present during the incantation will become possessed. This work was premiered by Dr. Nathan Fischer, on November 26, 2017 Malaysia Composers Concert Series held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center.
*qt = quarter tone bend, at the discression of the performer to produce a 1/4 or 3/4 qt
top of page
bottom of page