Songs with a festive theme are always in demand. According to Guinness World Records the best selling single up till today is Bing Crosby's, White Christmas with a sale of about 50 million copies internationally.
In certain South East Asian countries, the Chinese New Year song He Xin Nian and the Malay festive song, Selamat Hari Raya are also pop hits but on a much smaller scale.
On Friday the 17th of July, Muslims would mark the end of the fasting month by celebrating Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Selamat Hari Raya is a popular song that will be played and sung by those who celebrate the occasion. But there are many different compositions with the same title.
I spoke to long-time friend Mr Yusnor Ef, well-known author, Pop Yeh Yeh lyricist and Singapore Cultural Medal Winner, who tells me that there is a long list of Hari Raya song compositions ,including his, recorded and sung by many Malay artistes.
In a book published by PERKAMUS called, *Seven Magnificent Composers, four such songs were listed. These versions were the two I mentioned and another two composed by P. Ramlee and Kassim Masdor.
The former was a famous actor, film director and composer. The latter was a well-known Singaporean composer and music professional. There are actually more than fifty songs that have this theme and very many more today.
Patronising the Queen's Cinema on the Paya Lebar side of Geylang to watch movies, I started becoming familiar with these songs and some other Malay and Chinese pops. Near the cinema were two Malay kampongs. One was called Kampong Wak Tanjong, just across the road from the Paya Lebar Fire Station and Sims Avenue.
The other was Kampong Melaka, near Sandy Lane where City Plaza now stands and where I came to know many Malay friends when I visited them during Hari Raya. Ketupat, satay, lontong, sayur lodeh and rendang. And F&N orange to down the lot. A feast it was for a wide-eyed teen.
I still remember Moya my Bawean friend from Kampong Melaka who taught me my first basic chords on his acoustic guitar. I never went beyond chords C, F, G7 and Am. It was within this environment that I learnt the lyrics of my favourite Hari Raya song from Saloma. Significant lines I remember include:
|Queen's Cinema (Shaw Brothers Property)|
Di sana kelihatan
Bermacam kueh, ketupat dan rendang
Minta-ku kueh sepotong
Saya mahu makan kernah perut kosong...
Queen's Cinema was a magical place where I absorbed English, Chinese, Malay and a few Hindi movies. It was Singapore in the mid 1950's and as I paid fifty cents to watch a film I was transported through celluloid to other parts of a simple and peaceful world.
My main occupation then was watching musicals, the ones from Hollywood, and the Chinese and Malay ones from Shaw Brothers. Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse were the mainstay. Grace Chang, Li Li Hwa, P. Ramlee, Saloma and Maria Menado, completed my simple music education.
Selamat Aidil Fitri
Kepada saudara sertak saudari...
Dam dam dum mercun berbunyi
Merayakan hari yang mulia ini...
Write to us about Malay songs you love and Hari Raya visits you made.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all my Muslim friends and readers in Singapore and around the globe. We miss the "mercun berbunyi."
*Seven Magnificent Composers published by editorial team PERKAMUS (2002).
This posting is original and copyrighted.
You Tube Video.
SLIP NOTE: 19TH JULY, 2015. MADE IN SINGAPORE.
SINGAPORE WIND SYMPHONY PLAYS LOCAL POPS.
|Rickie Chng, Andy Young (Silver Strings) Yusnor Ef (Composer), Ho Chee Mun (Chair Wind Symphony), Audie Ng, John Cher (Silver Strings), Henry Chua (Quests).|
|With Wind Symphony Musical Director Adrian Tan.|
Images: Esplanade/Singapore Wind Symphony and Personal Collection.