December 8, 2010, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Malaysia, Singapore

Hello again.

Let’s see….now where was I?

Malaysia! sure…why not?
Malaysia has a wild diversity of music captured on 78 rpm record and a wide range of influences; Malay, Arabic, Hindu, Indonesian, Chinese, Portuguese and more. Lagu Melayu (Malay songs) tend to fall into categories like the Hindu influenced Orkes Harmonium, the Islamic based Orkes Gambus (Gambus is an instrument derived from the oud) and Orkes Melayu (Malay songs with western instruments). Indonesian influenced styles like krontjong, bangsawan and stomboel were also popular. Ultimately these diverse styles gave way to the ubiquitous rock based Dangdut.

Today, after a long break, we present a venerable Malay genre with roots reaching back to the 15th century called Dondang Sayang, literally “to sing with love.” The band is always led by a violinist who weaves in and out of the vocal melody, backed by a rhythm section of rebana (frame drum) and tetawak (gong), accordion was later added to the core ensemble. The singer improvises a kind of classical Malay poetry called pantun, often bantering with a singer of the opposite sex.

Here’s a scratchy, but excellent example of Dondang Sayang sung by Misses Itam & Timah for Singapore’s Pagoda label in 1930. I think each singer does one side of this record, but I have no clue which is which.

>Pagoda V3616a (mx-2260 BD)


11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Well, that was a very cheering start to the day, to find a new post at Haji Maji. What a treat. Many thanks as always – don’t be a stranger! (please!)

Comment by gracenotes

Itam and Timah (short for Fatimah) rock!!

Comment by JW

Stuck in cabin on a mountain studying for the board exam on Friday Night and listening to Haji Maji’s new post. Yip!

Comment by Khoa Nguyen

wonderful side

Comment by Michael

Hey Dave, Great to see you back with another post! This one is fantastic. Looking foreward to more you might have planed in the future and hope you have a chance to touch on Orkus Gambus in particular. Endless thanks for Haji Maji!

Comment by Will Hancock

this is great, thanks so much!
this is the “malay string” sound that i believe t. ngek chuan’s band played, and which in turn gave thai “string” music it’s name!

Comment by peterdoolan

Really? I thought it was more of the western pop sound he was attracted to…do you know if he recorded with his stringband? That would be interesting!

Comment by HAJI MAJI

in fact, he started out playing this sort of music with his (at that time aptly named) “malay string band” and as time went on their style shifted to a more western pop sensibility, but the band name stayed the same. thus the association of “string” and western copy-pop in thailand. i know recordings exist of his band, but i don’t know whether they are early enough to capture the malay sound. i’ll see if i can’t find out next trip!

Comment by peterdoolan

I recently aquired a copy of a another itam and timah record- Pagoda matrix # 3606 – with one side attributed to “Etam and Timah” and the other to just Timah. on the side attributed to both there are def. two voices at several points, one of which is higher and a bit thinner and follows the lead vocal on some passages. It sounds to me at least a bit more like the single voice on the timah side. My copy is pretty beat up though too. But, if I had to make a (slightly) educated guess here I’d say its seems likely we’re hearing Timah on this one. thanks again for the post dave! this one is one of my all time haji maji favorites.

Comment by Will Hancock

Hello ! Do you have side b on this record? cheers!

Comment by Justin

Dave, do you have any additional records by these guys? the disc that Michael Robertson uploaded on youtube has a considerably higher matrix#, ( about 50 or so…)where as all the other ones i’ve heard so far (yours, the one JW posted
and the one i mentioned above) are all pretty close together (within ten). have you ever come across or are you aware of any discs from what i suppose is the second miss Timah session?

Comment by Will Hancock

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: