Thursday, July 16, 2015

(1) 1950's Hari Raya Songs, Kampong Rendezvous. (2) Singapore Wind Symphony Plays Local Music

                               Selamat Hari Raya by Saloma

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.  

Two of the earliest ones recorded were the most popular. The first Selamat Hari Raya song was composed by Zubir Said.  He was the person who also wrote our National Anthem, Majullah Singapura.  The second Selamat Hari Raya song was by a well-known musician and band leader from the 1960's called Ahmad Jaffar. 

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.
Images: Google.
You Tube Video.



As part of Singapore's golden jubilee, the Singapore Wind Symphony pays tribute to Singapore pop music with our greatest hits performed by some of today's most exciting local artists! Featuring The Gentle Bones, Wicked Aura, Shun Ng, Sezairi Sezali, Amni Musfirah and Shabir. 

Made in Singapore takes you down memory lane while offering you a glimpse into today's vibrant music scene. Highlights include a special arrangement of Wicked Aura's Fight and Shun Ng's tribute to the hit song Shanty by The Quests and the Silver Strings, Shirley Nair's original, You're The Boy.

Co-presented with Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore Wind Symphony's Singapore! A Musical Celebration series celebrates our unique music heritage through national songs, musical theatre and jazz, as well as through collaborations with some of our nation's music icons including Dick Lee,  Jeremy Monteiro and Yusnor Ef's Aku Dia dan Lagu.

Beyond the concerts, these arrangements, specially created by local composers and arrangers for the orchestra, are made available to school, community and professional symphonic bands, so that future generations and audiences have the opportunity to perform and learn about Singapore's unique brand of music.
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.


YUSNOR EF said...

Mr Andy,

Congratulations with your effort to bring back Hari Raya song memories during the golden years of Singapore pops.

EA said...

Simply amazing. I had never received a Hari Raya greeting in music. Thanks a million.

NANI said...

Thanks bro.

B said...


gypsiedreamer said...

Dear Andy,

On behalf of Singapore Wind Symphony, I would like to invite you and the rest of your fellow Silver Strings to our tribute concert this Sunday, 19 July 5pm at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

We will be playing many songs from the 60s. The overall concept of the concert has young and upcoming pop singers singing songs from the 60s in tribute, followed by a song of their own.

Songs we will be performing include a set of tea dance hits which include You're the Boy, You Were Made For Me, The Boy Next Door and My Lonely Heart. Other songs performed in tribute include Ibu, Senjakala, Joget Malam Berinai, Aku Dia dan Lagu, Singapura and Shanty.

This is the link to our event:
Our facebook page:

We hope you can attend.

Mindy Lin
Singapore Wind Symphony

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for comments. A full day Hari Raya visit today 17th July with my grandson too. Two in Siglap, one in Tampines, one in Toa Payoh and a Johore Bahru one next week.


Dear Andy,

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI to you and all our Muslims Friends, this is the way we build our ‘multi-racial harmony’!

Thank you for the kindness in sending best wishes to our Muslims brothers and sisters during Hari Raya festive.

We are always part of each other in Singapore, as true blue Singaporeans, and the love we have for each other is never ending.

You are really good Andy, I appreciate your true and kind thoughts.

Best Regards.

CYLIN said...

Hey Andy,

1 Paterson Hill in the 1950s - 1973 fits the category of a kampong where different races lived in close proximity, and children played and learned from one another.

This was the residence of Dr Lim Boon Keng where my siblings and I played with Dr Lim's grandchildren, his Malay gardener's children, the Chinese kids and some Indian-Muslim ones from the house on Grange Road.

(Letter has been edited. A full version of this descriptive composition will appear in the next posting.)

Victor said...

Does Burung Kakak Tua count as a Hari Raya song?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Victor,

You can sing it any time but it has no Hari Raya theme. A children's song. That's what it is.


Dear Andy,

The concert sounds as if it was a 'gas' (dreadful pun for which I will apologise immediately). I remember Shanty very well as it, along with Gallopin', was played frequently on the radio when I was at Changi in the 60s. That was a wonderful time for young people to express themselves through their music, and Singapore was so rich in talented musicians.

I spent much of my spare time and money (not so spare, alas) on buying records which were so cheap-lah! in Singapore compared with UK prices, and many bargains could be found at night market stalls and shops, as has already been discussed in your marvellous blog.


Dear Andy,

My name is Adrian Tan, Music Director of the Singapore Wind Symphony. How are you?

Thank you for making time to come to last Sunday's concert, I've been a fan of your blog for the longest time, and follow it regularly. It has been the source of much information and knowledge about local music for me and provided me with a lot of insight.

Henri Gann said...

Wow Andy ! You are a "cultured guy" and you have been around. I am impressed. Have to talk to you more next time on the local stuff.