PETALING JAYA, March 14 — The Malayan Songbook is definitely for anyone who wants to go back in time to revisit the golden age of Malayan music.

Rearranged and transcribed by local music producer Ganesh Bala, the book is a collection of 21 contemporary Malay music scores by composers such as Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Ahmad Jaafar, Ahmad Wan Yet and Yusof B.

Some of the transcribed songs include Arjunaku by Ahmad Jaafar and Kembang Desa by Yusof B.

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

“I love rearranging songs. But Malayan tunes are unique — as it’s a fusion of Latin rhythms, jazz harmonies, Malay or Asli melodies performed with an array of western and traditional instruments.

“As an arranger, I have to always protect the composer’s creativity so I make sure to study the composer’s compositions so that my arrangements complements the overall style of the piece.”

Growing up, the musically-inclined composer reminisced his days of watching the legendary P. Ramlee in movies such as Anakku Sazali, Bujang Lapok and Penarek Becha.

“The music was so distinct to the point that I still remember it 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. 

“Hence, another reason for why I wanted to make this songbook, so that everyone can know a little bit more about the era.”

He added that the album inspired him to transcribe the scores and research more about the culture, history and entertainment scene of that time.

Using the latest recording software, he managed to restore the audio from the old records as some scores had missing parts, notes and harmony.

“Most of the Malayan tracks were recorded using open-reels. As time went by, the condition of these tapes deteriorated.

“Although RTM has done an amazing job in digitalising the recordings, the audio quality was still very poor in some of the songs. 

“There were songs that were speeding up in tempo resulting in a change of key, while others had an entire section missing,” he said.

Ganesh transferred the tracks into a digital audio workstation to repair the parts that were in need of one which enabled him to transcribe the songs accurately.

The audio-enhanced tracks allowed him to accurately transcribe the songs and theoretically determine correct notes or chord substitutions.

An excellent source for musicians and history lovers, the songbook is ideal for anyone interested to dive into the details of Malayan music history together with biographies of essays of the people behind the tunes.

The Malayan Songbook will be available at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstore, Borders and MPH from April onwards.