History of Malaysian 24 Seasons Drum Style

A typical Malaysian 24 Seasons unit consists of twenty four drums. The number twenty four is not an arbitrary selection. It represents agricultural seasons from the Chinese calendar. If you look closely you will find the name of each season painted in calligraphy on each drum.

Summer, fall/autumn, winter and spring are the primary seasons which are further divided into six secondary seasons. According to a farmer’s calendar the seasons which constitute the twenty four seasons are:

Seasons in Spring

Seasons in Summer

Seasons in Autumn

Seasons in Winter

First of spring

First of summer

First of autumn

First of winter

Rain water

Grains begin to ripe

Still warm in autumn

Minor snow


Grains are ripe

Winter dew

Heavy snow

Spring equinox

Summer solstice

Autumn equinox

Winter solstice

Clear water

Minor heat

Cold dew

Minor freeze

Rains suitable for grain

Great heat


Great freeze


Even though each drum troupe has its own individual style, the original styles of performance were meant to depict movements of farmers and activities on a farm.

    But the first performance of this art form did not even have twenty four drums! Nine Chinese drums were used in the opening ceremony of the National Dance Competition in Johor Bharu, Malaysia in 1988. The event drew large crowds and on the back of the performance, the Chinese Association stepped up their activities. A set of 24 drums were bought, Mr. Chen Wei Chong from Foon Yew Chinese Secondary School was roped in to train drummers and the rest they say is history. Mr. Tan Chai Puan and Mr. Tan Hooi Song are two individuals who were instrumental in the establishment and growth of the art through Malaysia. They have been involved in the Malaysian 24 Seasons drumming style through it’s inception in the Chinese drum festival to this date where it is proudly taught to the students of Foon Yew.  

24 Festive Drum Documentary Part 1

24 Festive Drum Documentary Part 2