Photograph of Malay vinyl record ‘Bersama (Together)’ by Normadiah and P. Ramlee

This is a photograph of a Malay pop song vinyl record (or gramophone record) made in the 1950s to 1960s. Until the 1960s, the majority of these records were produced in India. Before World War Two, Malay songs were ‘Bangsawan’, ‘Dikir Barat’, ‘Keroncong’, ‘Ghazal’ or copies of Indonesian songs. In the late 1940s, however, Malay singers started to infuse different styles into their music. Ranging from Indian film music to Western popular music, these styles were modified and adapted in the Malay context to create a new sound, thus allowing Malay music to develop a new identity and its own cultural substance. In addition, folk songs (and some traditional songs) were increasingly modernised and popularised during this period to go along with this new identity. These Malay singers and their songs became very popular especially in the urban areas. Singapore was the centre of the bourgeoning Malay entertainment industry, which included music and films, from the 1940s to the 1960s.