Renowned local composer Ganesh Bala recently released The Malayan Songbook, which revisits the golden age of pre-independence Malayan music, after five painstaking years of research, audio restoration, music transcription and arrangement.

The book, a collection of 20 contemporary Malay music scores by composers such as Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Ahmad Jaafar, Ahmad Wan Yet, and Yusof B, was launched on March 3 at the Vida Bukit Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur, by Y.A.M Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, a leading patron of music and arts in Malaysia, and an accomplished pianist himself.

Also included in the book, produced by songstress Ushera Yusof and published by the OUCH Music Academy, are studies, biographies and essays about the people behind these tunes that offer glances of Malaya’s golden age of music and entertainment.

Speaking to Malay Mail, Ganesh said that he was proud to have contributed his debut songbook to the local music scene.

The 33-year-old composer reminisced growing up watching the legendary P. Ramlee in movies such as Anakku Sazali, Bujang Lapok and Penarek Becha, which he recalled having music "so distinct" that he remembers till today.

"However, I only knew about P. Ramlee as a Malayan composer.

“I did not know much about other composers of the time until I produced Semalam di Malaya in 2016," he told the portal, adding that with the Malayan Songbook, many more people could get to know about the era.

In transcribing the scores, Ganesh researched the culture, history and entertainment scene of the then Malaya, and using the latest recording software, he managed to restore the audio, some of which were missing parts and notes, or were of very poor aduio quality.

The digital workstation the renowned music producer cum pianist worked on allowed him to "repair" the missing or off-key parts.

During the launching of the book, Ganesh himself led a live performance with his piano, with Ushera on vocals, to present the guests a beautiful concoction of rich Malay melodies intertwined with latin rhythms and jazz harmonies.

If you are a history or music buff, you can grab The Malayan Songbook at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstore, Borders and MPH from April onwards.

Source: Malay Mail, Press release
Photo source: Press release, Malay Mail