Sumazau, Daling-Daling and the Kulintangan! The Sabah Cultural Board comes to Kinabalu International School

I love the sound of the kulintangan. You know – the small gongs lined up and played like a xylophone, arranged in a pentatonic scale [that means just five notes in the scale, like playing just the black notes on a piano]. There was plenty of that going on at the Kinabalu International School (KIS) in Bukit Padang, when Mr. Cyril Aloysius, Music Director at the Sabah Cultural Board (SCB), arrived with his colourful troop of dancers and musicians.

Mr. Cyril was conducting a workshop, one of several events taking place at the school as part of KIS’ International Week.

In this video below, this chap from the SCB was just adjusting the lovely kulintangan, but I pestered him so much, [“Go on! Play something for me! Please!“] he just couldn’t escape. He got away as quickly as he could, I think. 😉 Poor guy!

Mr. Cyril chatted to the kids about Sabah: its location, its population size,  showing on a big map where the ethnic community centres are. Then there were some demos of different costumes and dances.

Warrior dance - Tenom
Daling-Daling dance
Daling-Daling dance
Bajau Limbai dancers
Bajau Limbai dance
Bajau Igal-Igal dance from Semporna
Bajau Igal-Igal dance
Rungus dance from Kudat
Dance by the Rungus from Kudat

In a separate music room the SCB musicians got the kids to play the ethnic instruments too. A full-on day for new sounds and new moves!

Mr. Cyril had talked through some of the dance forms:

  • the Sumazau dance, from the Kadazandusun tribe, is the most well-known traditional dance in Sabah.
  • The Igal-Igal dance from Semporna is the one with long fingernails and intricate hand movement.
  • The Daling-Daling dance comes from the Bajau community, and the word “Daling” actually comes from the English word “Darling”. This dance has a strong 4/4 beat which you can clap to, and in the version in the video, there’s a violin playing, which gives the melody a touch of the Irish fiddle, as well as strains of Arabic music in the tune.
  • The dance by the Rungus from Kudat was faster with much smaller steps.

The SCB singer had a wonderful song to sing when when the warrior dancers appeared, near the end of the afternoon’s full show.   The warriors had some fun with the younger kids, a few delighted screams here and there  🙂

Many thanks to Mr. Cyril Aloysius for his invitation to write up this event. Also, thanks to Mr. Stuart McLay and Mr. Dave Williamson of KIS, for giving their permission for SabahSongs to be on the premises for the day.



  1. 2007 we have invitet the sabah cultural board for the musikschau der nationen. we want to invite this group again for our show 2012. our contact person at this time was mr.rusman abdullah .i think his is no longer on duty ? please can you give me the name and e-mail from the person who is responsable now.

    1. Hello Rolf Reimers. I will find out for you and get you the contact details. Give me a few days.
      Best wishes, Joanna Funk

    2. I passed your contact details to the Sabah Cultural Board, and I expect someone will contact you soon. If you don’t hear anything after a few weeks, let me know, ok? Best wishes, Joanna

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