Article provided by National Library Board

Where can the public hear musical recordings from pre-war Singapore?


Local pre-war musical recordings are being made available online under the National Archives of Singapore’s (NAS) ‘Sounds of Yesteryear’ initiative.

These 52 recordings date from 1903 to 1941, ranging from early Malay and Arabic songs to performances by Singapore’s oldest Chinese opera troupes, in dialects such as Hokkien, Teochew and Hakka.

Each week, one new track is released on the Archives Online audiovisual collection’s website.

Selected from over 3,500 shellac and vinyl records preserved by the NAS, the tracks include Malay songs in a wide range of styles, from the foxtrot to the Javanese ronggeng, as well as early examples of the Dutch East Indies musical style known as the keroncong.

Other highlights include a recording of part of a Chinese opera, 织女弄梭, performed by Singapore’s oldest Teochew opera troupe, as well as Senang Senangan Duet, a duet between two male Peranakan singers - one of whom is singing in a female voice - and Kebuasan Hitler, a Malay song composed as anti-Nazi propaganda.

Presented by