The Music of Old Malayan Times, Renewed for Today

malayan songbook
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Bringing back the harmony of pre-independence melodies in the time of Old Malaya, a new songbook curated by Malaysia’s creatives revitalises a golden age of music and entertainment.

The Malayan Songbook is a beautiful documentation many historians and musicians alike would appreciate. With over five years of research, audio restoration, music transcription, and arrangement prior to its completion, OUCH Academy continues their efforts to nurture and harness creativity that contributes to society.

(From left to right: Ushera, Ganesh Bala, Y.A.M Tunku Zain Al ’Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, Noor Azmi Mat Said | Image provided by Strategic Public Relations Sdn Bhd

Featuring a selection of 20 contemporary Malay music scores by notable and historic composers Ahmad Jaafar, Ahmad Wan Yet, Yusof B., P. Ramlee, an array of folk tunes, and writings about the people behind these tunes, glances of Malaya’s melodic history has never been so readily accessible by the modern generation.

While many other publications faced delays and halts during production due to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting logistics and workforce, producer Ushera Yusof noted that support by the Creative Industry Recovery Grant under Literature & Publishing, a PENJANA initiative managed by
MyCreative Ventures fortunately saw this project into completion.

“With this songbook, Ganesh Bala has provided a powerful contribution towards this endeavor of music and the arts which will be multiplied many times over as musicians perform these classic tunes,” says Y.A.M. Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, a leading patron of music and
arts in Malaysia, and an accomplished pianist himself in the forward of the book, praising composer, music producer and fellow pianist Ganesh, who dedicated effort and time into transcribing and re-arranging the collection.

malayan songbook performance
Malayan Songbook Launch | Image provided by Strategic Public Relations Sdn Bhd

The book was launched in an entertaining live performance by Ganesh, his band, and songstress Ushera on vocals to bring to life this concoction of rich Malay tunes intertwined with Latin rhythms and jazz harmonies.

“I hope the book encapsulates the essence of well loved, pre Merdeka Malayan songs that can be enjoyed and shared with all through many generations to come,” says Ganesh Bala.

The Malayan Songbook, now available in selected bookstores such as Kinokuniya, Borders, & Times Bookstore. The author also hinted at subsequent volumes of the book to be expected in the near future.

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