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CIMB Malaysia creates the Sound of a Nation

Geometry Malaysia worked with CIMB, one of Malaysia’s financial services providers, to ideate and develop the Sound of a Nation, a digital campaign that combines the biological signature of everyday Malaysians and the talents of the country’s leading musicians to deliver a message of unity on Malaysia Day.

The symphony was unique in its approach. Geometry Malaysia’s idea was to demonstrate how Malaysia’s people of different ethnicities could come together as diverse melodies to form a single, harmonious piece of music; therefore paying tribute to unity. For this effect, they employed facial recognition technology.

Geometry Malaysia’s Interface Development Team Lead, Chinling Yeo explains in the Making Of video, “Facial recognition can identify over 27 points that make a person’s face unique. We developed an algorithm that collects the most prominent points into three key zones. We put these points into a musical transcript. This gives an individual his or her unique melody.”

Launched exclusively on the internet, the Sound of a Nation campaign engaged the public on all digital fronts: on social media as well as through Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) who shared their individual melodies with followers. Most importantly, Geometry Malaysia connected the unique national optimism of this project with the brand CIMB, a bank that grew through the merging of different homegrown banks to become the leading ASEAN bank, to deliver this message to the public. CIMB’s ‘A New Day’, an online film for National Day, invited the public to submit and translate their face images into melodies at a CIMB microsite specially developed by Geometry. Within a week, close to 1,000 face images were collected with over 500 individual melodies selected to compose the final symphony.

The creative team at Geometry Malaysia then turned to cultural expert and music celebrity Sean Ghazi to create this symbolic piece of music, together with head composer Aubrey Suwito who composed the final symphony and recorded it with a host of leading Malaysian musicians. At the beginning of music production, Aubrey Suwito, Musical Director of Sound of a Nation and accomplished Malaysian composer, musician and producer, expressed his passion for the piece, “My job is to work with these fine excellent musicians to take these melodies and put them together into a meaningful, beautiful piece of music. A reflection of the unity that defines Malaysia. A unity that we see every day in our daily lives.”

The full-scale orchestra expanded to include musical instruments of traditional or sentimental significance to the Malaysian people, including a variety of ethnic flutes and drums as well as the electric rock guitar. The final symphony was distributed among this wide array of instruments—even the percussion and drum patterns were produced from the participants’ data. This unprecedented orchestral performance was filmed and produced for online release. Unveiled on Malaysia Day weekend, the online film alone garnered more than 1.7 million in total achieved views in just two weeks—bringing the total achieved views of all films in the campaign, including ‘A New Day’ and the Making of video, to more than 4.7 million.

The Malaysia Day film concludes with a fitting quote from Bapa Kemerdekaan (Malaysia’s Father of Independence). The creative team at Geometry Malaysia felt that Tunku Abdul Rahman’s reference to ‘the strength of unity’ has found new relevance in this hour of the nation’s history.

Michael Fillon, Executive Creative Director of Geometry Malaysia who conceived the project, puts this unity in a global perspective, “If you ask anyone from outside the country, “What does a Malaysian look like?”, you’d be hard pressed for an answer. That’s because the country is so ethnically and culturally rich, that its identity cannot be condensed into a single description. Growing up in such an environment has given Malaysians a strong sense of tolerance towards different cultures, religions and family values. But the one thing all Malaysians hold in common is the desire to move their country forward, and to do it together as one people. Sound of a Nation is a musical tribute to this solidarity.”

Because of these special times, Mr Fillon believes that CIMB’s Sound of a Nation campaign truly struck a chord with the people. “While this Malaysia Day was unsurprisingly filled with brand communication all focussing on togetherness, it was CIMB that showed how Malaysians can create something amazing together—translated into music, the things that make Malaysians different from one another are also the things that make the country’s unity both beautiful and powerful,” he added.

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