Malaysian music is influenced by Indonesian and Thai, Portuguese, Filipino and Chinese styles.


The Malays of Kelantan and Terengganu are culturally linked to people from the South China Sea area, and are quite different from the West Coast of Malaya. The martial art of Silat, while essentially still important as a branch of the self-defence, is also popular among the Malays as an art presentation. Similar to Tai Chi, though of independent origin, it is a mix of martial arts, dance and music typically accompanied by gongs, drums and Indian oboes.


The natives of the Malay Peninsula played in small ensembles called Kertok, which is swift and rhythmic xylophone music. Ghazals from Arabia are popular in the markets and malls of Kuala Lumpur and Johor, and stars like Kamariah Noor are very successful.


In Malacca, Ronggeng is the dominant form of folk music. It is played with a violin, drums, Button Accordion and a Gong.


Arabic-derived Zapin music and dance is popular throughout Malaysia, and is usually accompanied by a Gambus and some drums. Another style, Dondang Sayang is slow and intense; it mixes influences from China, India, Arabs and Portugal with traditional elements.


Pop music

Malaysia's pop music scene is developed from traditional Asli (pure) music and popularized in the 1920s and 1930s by Bangsawan troupes. These troupes are in fact a type of Malaysian opera influenced by Indian opera at first known as Wayang Pasir (Persia), started by rich Persians residing in India. They portrayed stories from diverse groups such as Indian, Western, Islamic, Chinese, Indonesian and Malay. Music, dance, and acting with costumes are used in performance depending on the stories told. The musicians were mostly local Malays, Filipinos and Guanis (descendants from Gua in India).


One of the earliest modern Malay pop songs was ‘Tudung Periok’, sung by Momo Latif, who recorded the song as early as 1930. In the 1950s P.Ramlee became the most popular Malay singer and composer with a range of slow ballads such as "Azizah", "Dendang Perantau" and the evergreen "Di Mana Kan Ku Cari Ganti".


Pop Yeh-yeh

In the 1960s, western-influenced Pop Yeh-yeh musicians came to the forefront. The Pop Yeh-yeh genre was popular in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei in the 1960s. Pop Yeh-yeh ruled the Malay music scene from 1965 to 1971. The music and fashion of The Beatles and other British rock and roll bands during the 1960s were strong influences of the pop yeh-yeh bands and also the Malay music industry of that period. In fact, the term ‘pop yeh-yeh’ was taken from a line from the popular Beatles song, ‘She Loves You’ (‘she loves you, yeah-yeah-yeah’.)


The first local song in the Pop Yeh-yeh vein was a song called ‘Suzanna’, sung by M Osman in 1964. During the height of the pop yeh-yeh craze, a lot of the bands that were formed tried their best to mimic The Beatles in their look, song writing and performance style. Usually the bands (also referred to as ‘kumpulan gitar rancak’ or its acronym ‘kugiran’) consist of four members who sing on top of handling the basic four musical instruments (2 electric guitars, electric bass and drums). Most of the bands were formed in Singapore but also in Malaysia. Johor and Singapore were the hubs of activity for these bands. Most of the recordings were done in Singapore at the old EMI Studio, McDonald's House in Orchard Road and many other small privately owned studios


The word ‘Kugiran’ was first aired on Radio Singapore in the weekly Top Chart ‘Lagu Pujaan Minggu Ini’ programme on Radio Singapore and was hosted by the first Malay DJ M.I.A. (Mohd Ismail Abdullah). It was understood that the acronym ‘Ku-Gi-Ran’ was the idea of a subtitling officer, Daud Abdul Rahman. ‘Kugiran’ comprises 5 piece band members and a vocalist, one lead-guitarist, one bassist, one rhythm-guitarist, one organist (keyboardist) and a drummer.


The formation and development of these kugirans encouraged the establishment and existence of various recording companies in Singapore in the 1960s and a lot of these songs were recorded on vinyl and sold well commercially. Some of the singers who made their name during that period include M Osman, A Ramlie, Jeffrydin, Adnan Othman, Halim "Jandaku" Yatim, Afidah Es, J Kamisah, Siti Zaiton, J. Sham, A Rahman Onn, Hasnah Haron, J Kamisah, Fatimah M Amin, Asmah Atan, Orkid Abdullah, A. Remie, Zamzam, Salim I, Kassim Selamat, M Rahmat, A Karim Jais, M Ishak, Hussien Ismail, Jaafor O, A Halim, Azizah Mohamed, S Jibeng and L Ramlee. Other popular rock and pop bands of the period include The Rhythm Boys, The Siglap Five, The Hooks which featured A Romzi as their lead vocalist (they scored a hit with the song "Dendang Remaja"), Siglap Boys, Les Kafilas, Cliffters featuring Rikieno Bajuri, Impian Bateks featuring Rudyn Al-Haj with his popular number "Naik Kereta Ku" and acapella like "Oh Posmen", "Gadis Sekolah" etc, The Swallows featuring "La Aube", "Angkut-angkut Bilis" etc whose vocalist was Kassim Selamat and the EP was featured in a radio station in Germany. There, "La Aube" was in the German pop chart.


The golden age of pop yeh-yeh started to dwindle in 1971. Since the fall of the popularity of pop yeh-yeh, the center of the Malay music industry shifted up north from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. A lot of composers, songwriters, lyricists, singers, and producers started to gain foothold not only in Kuala Lumpur but also in other cities including Johor Bahru and Ipoh to grab the opportunity of the emerging and rapidly changing Malay music industry.


Changes in musical tastes

DJ Dave, Hail Amir and Uji Rashid introduced Hindustani-influenced music in the 1970s. Between the late 1970s and mid 1980s, the market for local recordings and artiste was in big demand, bands and musicians performing in clubs and pubs were contracted to record. This was the time when non-Malay artistes, bands and businessman ventured into the Malay music industry. Bands like Alley Cats, Discovery, Carefree and Chendrawasih took the lead to modernize Malaysian Pop music; solo singers like Sudirman, Sharifah Aini further push the music to its peak.


Before the mid 1980’s another genre of music appeared. This time it was slow rock, heavy metal, hard rock and the blues. Popular bands from the west like Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Def Leppard were some of the major influences for these Malaysian bands. M. Nasir previously a Singaporean played a leading role in shaping rock music in Malaysia as a songwriter and producer for a period of almost ten years. He produced local rock bands like Search and Wings and took them to their highest level of Malaysian rock music. Piracy in the form of duplicating cassettes and CDs became rampant and uncontrollable around this period as sales of these items soar as a result of the country’s wave of economic success.


Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, R&B and Pop music became the focus of the urban youngsters. This music was cosmopolitan and catered to a professional and educated crowd. Sheila Majid, a singer with a lovely mellow voice together with a bunch of creative musicians like Mac Chew and Jenny Chin both influenced by R&B, fusion and jazz achieved their dreams and set a new direction for many Malaysian R&B artistes to come. In the mid 1990s, KRU, a vocal group comprised of three brothers among others developed Malay rap and hip-hop.


Islam-influenced pop

In 1991, an environmental album recorded by Zainal Abidin, songs written by Mukhlis Nor and produced by Roslan Aziz was released. This was accepted very positively by the public and the international music scene especially in Asia. Around this time Nasyid pop music, a form of Islamic religious which utilized a vocal group and accompaniment of only percussions music entered the market. Developed by vocal groups like Raihan, Rabbani and Brothers, this music got a lot of support from the countryside and religious fans.


In 1996, a schoolgirl by the name of Siti Nurhaliza from a rural town Termeloh in the state of Pahang released an album produced by a talented pop music producer named Adnan Abu Hassan. This album of Malay Pop genre was a huge success. She included different genres such as Malay pop, R&B and Malay Traditional music in her later albums with much success. This singer is now a singing sensation in the country.


Underground music scene

The Malaysian underground music scene (also known as the Malaysian independent or urban music scene, with the term ‘urban’ introduced only in the late 90s) is an established localized underground culture within Malaysia. This is in opposition to mainstream music, which usually, in the Malaysian context, refers to artists with strong ties or engaged in direct contract with fairly large recording companies, giving them a more commercial and popular image. Underground groups normally promote themselves by performing at lesser-known clubs or at places that need their music to attract a clientele.


Artists and musicians who are involved in the Malaysian underground scene were typically guitar-driven bands with inclination towards heavy metal, thrash metal, speed metal and death metal sub genre of rock music although there are a number of acts with differing musical influences such as hip-hop, Electronica and dance music. The current rise of singer-songwriters in the acoustic or folk vein in the underground scene (also often referred to as the ‘independent circuit’) represents the rising diversity in the problematical definition of ‘underground music’. The first wave of singer-songwriters who have established and gained reputation in this genre include Pete Teo, Rafique Rashid, Meor Aziddin Yusof and Kit Lee (now known as Antares). The ‘new generation’ singer-songwriters include Shelley Leong, Azmyl Yunor, Jerome Kugan, Shanon Shah, Mei Chern and Tan Sei Hon.


Most of these musicians are independent, entirely or partially DIY-driven groups or bands that focus on creating, sharing and experiencing music, together and collectively. Most of the recordings they produce are funded by themselves or through the occasional cultural grant rather than through corporate sponsorship due to their creative differences with major recording companies for whom ‘the bottom line’ is all that matters. Like all independent artists, those on the musical fringe generally insist on full artistic control over their music. They also tend to play both the roles of performers and organisers and generally receive little airplay despite encouraging crowd support. Despite the limited resources and information, they learned to make a movement by themselves based on spirituality, unity and an interest in music. They wanted to shared their music and let everybody know about what they know.


After MTV entered the music scene in Malaysia, underground community faced the threat of total destruction. Teenagers began following the ideology of western music and forgot about their culture. Until now, veterans of underground community still flow and reject the mainstream world.



By the late 1990’s, with the Internet easily available, downloading was the easiest and cheapest way to obtain recordings through mp3 files. Hardware CDs were also available in shops, illegal CD stalls and night markets. Priced at a quarter of the original product price, CDs from major distributors and recording companies were no competition for these pirates. The market further deteriorated with the arrival of hardware such as mp3 players and mobile phones with similar features.


The encouragement from the Malaysian government towards privatization of broadcasting stations received tremendous support from the public. An array of new radio and TV stations were built to facilitate public interest in entertainment, news, movies and information.


It was during the early 2000 that introduction to a new form of entertainment called “Reality Shows” was able to revive public interest in music entertainment. Shows such as Akademi Fantasia and Malaysian Idol allowed the public to choose their own stars by sending SMS through hand phones or computers at the convenience of the audiences. This excited the public because they were involved in the making of a celebrity and could choose who they wanted instead of having record companies create & distribute artistes.


Research implied that comparing from the past decades many other forms of entertainment such as DVDs, Cable TVs, increased radio programmes and change of life styles has affected the musical interest of the public towards local artistes. However, this is still not representative of the active live music circuit with performers who compose and perform their own materials. The rising tide of commercialisation and product placements using musicians and popular artists casts a giant shadow over the local independent music (or "underground") scene and gives a skewed perception of what the local music "industry" represents instead of the actual voice of local musicians who still actively perform at pubs, gig venues and cafes.


From reality shows, stars such as Vincent Chong, Jaclyn Victor, Daniel Lee Chee Hun and Mawi are able to command larger volumes of CD sales compared to non-reality-show artistes. This diversity personifies the wide-ranging field of popular music in Malaysia and the unpredictability of Malaysian consumers towards popular cultural products.


Underground music

The Malaysian underground music scene (also known as the Malaysian independent or urban music scene, with the term ‘urban’ introduced only in the late 90s) is an established localized underground culture within Malaysia. This is as opposed to mainstream music, which usually, in the Malaysian context refers to artists with strong ties or are engaged in direct contract with fairly large recording companies, giving them a more commercial and popular image.


Artists and musicians who are involved in the Malaysian underground scene are usually guitar-driven bands with inclination towards rock music, although there are a number of acts with differing musical influences such as folk, hip-hop, Electronica and dance music.


One of the other characteristics of this local scene is that most of the musicians are independent, entirely or partially DIY (Do it yourself)-driven groups or bands who emphasise on creating, sharing and experiencing music, together and collectively. Materials that they produce, such as albums, demos or EPs will usually be independent works, most of the time funded entirely or to some extend by themselves. Also, small musical performances known as gigs are organized regularly showcasing these bands.


The state of Terengganu was known as the Malaysian capital of punk rock throughout late 1979 and the 1980s, but there were no bands then as the punks were too poor to afford the equipment. The scene then was more a convergence of pioneering punk rockers trading pre-recorded music and fanzines acquired from pen-pals and friends from overseas while dabbling in home-made DIY punk fashion. This early Malaysian punks started in 1978/79. The early punk scene in Terengganu hit its peak in the early 80s before gradually dying out in the mid 90s. A new generation picked it up again in the late-90s with bands, DIY labels and intermittent gigs.


The first rumblings of a bonafide ‘underground music scene’, as in real bands and original recordings in Malaysia actually started in the city of Kuala Lumpur in the mid-80s with bands such as Punisher, Nemesis, Rator etc. These pioneers paved the way for a huge explosion of bands in the early 90s and it continues today with bands and acts of many different permutations, from political, Anarcho Punk (Carburator Dung, Relationsheep, Mass Separation, Pusher etc.), Street Punk (A.C.A.B., The Official, Roots ‘N’ Boots, etc.), hardcore (Chronic Mass, Basic Rights, Disaster Funhouse, Noisemonger, Cramp Mind, etc) to experimental, avant-garde noise (Amid the Mimic, Maharajah Commission, Ta, Goh Lee Kwang, Eerie etc.) to singer-songwriters (Rafique Rashid, Pete Teo, Meor Aziddin Yusof, Azmyl Yunor, Jerome Kugan etc.) to Chinese indie (Moxuan, Lang Mang, KRMA, Nao etc.) to instrumental post-rock (Furniture, Before The Meltdown Sgt. Weener Arms etc.}.


Terengganu Punk: The Origins of Malaysian Punk Rock

The first proper punk rock "scene" in Malaysia started in Terengganu in 1978/1979. It started in the small town of Dungun by a group of friends influenced by British music magazines such as NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, and Zig Zag, as well as their brothers and friends living in the more modern West Coast cities who would pass them the magazines and music.

By late 1979, almost every secondary school in the state had its own cliques of punk rockers. They would hang out on the weekends at the main bus station in the capital city of Kuala Terengganu, with the usual punk rock regalia (badges, studs, safety pins and such). Too poor to afford guitars or any other musical instruments, there never was an actual punk band but trading of tapes and zines were vigorous.


Most of the trading material came from friends studying overseas, friends living in the West Coast cities and also punk rockers from UK, Europe and US who were kind enough to send tapes and magazines for free. Irregular trips were made to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (and Pulau Pinang, but rarely as it was too far) to dub punk rock records at the music stores or buy pirated tapes, the only source for good music those days.

Some fishing villages would have the most "punks" and thus became the center of activities. The main two villages were Kampung Mengabang Telipot (an hour north to the city) and Kampung Tanjung (right at the mouth of the city's river system). In Mengabang Telipot, there was a small bookstore selling magazines and music, which the kids would share. This bookstore was actually a wooden cupboard situated at one of the punk rockers' houses.


The first Malaysian punk rock fanzine came out from this scene. It appeared in 1986 with the title of Huru Hara (meaning "chaos"); it was written in Terengganu slang by Editor Mamat Hitam but never distributed on a large scale. The first fanzine to do that was Aedes, which lasted until 1996; the first punk bands to appear there were Mallaria and later The Stone Crows. Both put out one rehearsal/demo tape.


There was a lull in activity in the mid-80s for the Terengganu punk scene, but a resurgence of bands of different persuasions appeared by the late 80s and early 90s (sparked in part by the setting up of a larger Malaysian underground music scene based in Kuala Lumpur in 1987). By the mid 90s onwards, there were constantly new bands appearing in the state and as of 2005, there are still a lot of active punk-influenced bands and zines.


Chinese music

The Hua Yue Tuan (華乐团), or Chinese Orchestra, is made up of a blend of western and traditional Chinese musical instruments. The music itself combines western polyphony with Chinese melodies and scales. Although the bulk of its repertoire consists of music imported from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, many local Chinese orchestras also regularly perform Malay folk tunes with various local composers making a definite effort to absorb elements of surrounding musical cultures, especially Malay, into their compositions. In Malaysia, Chinese orchestras exist nationwide in urban areas which have large concentrations of Chinese Malaysians. Sponsored largely by various Chinese organisations including schools and Buddhist societies, a typical orchestra consists of between 12 to 50 members.


The orchestra is usually made up of four sections:


(a) Bowed string instruments, consisting of:

· erhu (二胡; range of three octaves; performs the role of the violin)

· banhu (板胡; a high pitched fiddle with coconut sound box)

· gaohu (高胡; pitch is higher than erhu)

· zhonghu (中胡; tenor erhu, similar to viola)

· gehu (革胡; like the cello)

· bei-da-ge-hu (倍大革胡; like the double bass)


(b) Plucked strings comprising various sized lutes:

· pipa (琵琶; highest pitch)

· liu-yue-qin (柳月琴)

· yueqin (月琴)

· zhongruan (中阮)

· daruan (大阮)

· sanxian (三弦)

· guzheng (古筝)

· yangqin (扬琴)


(c) The wind section consisting of:

· dizi (笛子; transverse flutes)

· xiao (箫; vertical flutes)

· sheng (笙; mouth organ)

· suona (唢呐; reed aerophone)


(d) The percussion section consisting of:

· paigu (排鼓; drums)

· taigu (太鼓; drums)

· dabo (大钹; cymbals)

· lo (锣; hand held tam-tam)

· shih mian lo (十面锣; frame mounted tam-tam)

· ling (铃; bell)

· ma ling (马铃; 5 suspended bells)

· shuang yin mu (双音木), bang zi (棒子) and mu yu (木鱼; woodblocks)


There is no lack of virtuoso performers in the Chinese classical tradition in Malaysia. Advanced training is however not presently available with most Malaysian virtuoso musicians obtaining their advanced training either in China or Singapore. Various professional and semi-professional Chinese orchestras are in existence. Malaysian western trained classical conductors are employed full time. Much of the music played is imported from China. There are however some accomplished Malaysian composers for this medium such as Saw Boon Kiat and Chew Hee Chiat.


New generations of Chinese singers are more into pop music. These talented composers/singers include Eric Moo, Michael Wong, Fish Leong, Z-Chen, and Penny Tai.


Indian Music

Indian music is very much associated with religious traditions and faiths. As its origins in India, there are two systems of traditional or classical Indian music in Malaysia, viz. the Carnatic and the Hindustani. Since Tamils from South India are the predominant group among the Indian population in Malaysia, it is the South Indian carnatic music which predominates. Simply speaking, Carnatic classical music is more lyric-oriented, while Hindustani classical music emphasises musical structure.


Indian classical music as it is performed in Malaysia has remained true to its origin. There is practically no other cultural influence. Other than reflecting Indian life, the purpose of Indian classical music is to refine the soul.


The fundamental elements of carnatic music are raaga and taala. A raaga is a scale of notes, while the taala is the time-measure. A carnatic music concert usually starts with a composition with lyrical and passages in a particular raaga. This will be followed by a few major and subsequently some minor compositions.


In Malaysia, traditional or classical Indian music are studied and performed by Malaysians of Indian ethnic origin with material that still comes from India. Musical productions are mainly in the form of dance dramas incorporating instrumental ensemble, vocal music and dance. Musical instruments used in the performances are imported from India.


Jazz, classical, and world music

The 21st Century has witnessed the rapid rise of a variety of new musical trends, imported from different shores and strongly influenced by an urban elite hip to jazz-fusion and fringe music (classical revivals, ethnic-flavoured folk, trance, and so on). Students who studied in Europe and the Americas began returning with a staunch passion for more progressive musical modalities.


Ethnic Music has also found a new and vigorous following, with world music festivals like the Rainforest World Music Festival, held annually since 1998 in a scenic open-air setting in Sarawak. The first Malaysian ‘ethnic fusion’ group to play on this international platform was Akar Umbi - comprising Temuan ceremonial singer Minah Angong (1930-1999) and fringe musicians Antares (formerly Kit Leee) and Rafique Rashid. Unfortunately, the charismatic Minah Angong (better known as Mak Minah) died just three weeks after winning over the hearts of a whole new audience at the RWMF 1999. This left Akar Umbi with only one posthumously released CD to its name ('Songs of the Dragon,' Magick River, 2002).


Private companies like Trident Entertainment have begun to invest in the production/distribution and promotion of the "ethnic fringe" in Malaysian music.


Petronas, the national petro-chemical corporation responsible for the construction of the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (Petronas Philharmonic Hall), and statutory bodies like the Sarawak Tourism Board have contributed significantly to the development of a broader interest in jazz, classical, and world music amongst the new generation of Malaysians. Private institutions like the Temple of Fine Arts have also produced a steady flow of students skilled in the world music genre (though with a pronounced bias towards Hindustani & Carnatic musical traditions). The Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (Petronas Philharmonic Hall), home to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, has become a popular venue amongst the affluent new Malaysian middle class for quality acts encompassing jazz, classical, and world music concerts.


Malaysia can boast a handful of homegrown musicians who have achieved world-class stature in jazz exposition (e.g., ace keyboardists Michael Veerapan and David Gomes; freestyle bassist Zailan Razak; versatile multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, The Solianos; and virtuoso drummer Lewis Pragasam). Mohar and Prabhu Ganesh, two master flautists with ethnic leanings, are Malaysian musicians who have begun to make waves abroad. Many of these innovators are ex-alumni of the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. The promise of even more exciting things to come can be seen in the emergence of youthful, ethnic-flavoured percussion ensembles like the Aseana Percussion Unit (APU) and the bhangra-based Dhol Federation of Malaysia.

Popular Artistes

Ah Niu

Ah Niu's original name was Chen Qingxiang. Before 1997, he was only popular in Malaysia and Singapore. After one of his songs was sung by Taiwan pop singer and actor Richie Ren, Ah Niu quickly became recognized by the public and generated a large audience in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Mainland China. Ah Niu's music style is very down to earth. As such, the style is often easily approachable, like the singer himself. His songs are very simplistic, narrating the many

Sheila Majid and Lim Yee Chung

They recently teamed up to record Melody, a love song written by Lim with lyrics by Sheila. Lim is currently one of the fastest rising Malaysian artistes based in Taiwan. ‘Melody is a love song on how love is like a melody in your heart, and how a boy is willing to forget his past to be with a girl,’ he explained, before adding that he has already recorded a solo version of the song for his yet-to-be-titled album.

lifestyles of Malaysians. His lyrics are often his music's driving force, some of which are about love. His most unforgettable hits include “Dui Mian De Nu Hai Kan Guo Lai” [Girls, look over here!], Say I Love You with the Passion of Malaysian Weather, “Dut Dut Che” (meaning ‘car’ in Malaysian Mandarin). Other song is “ Aku Cinta Pada Mu


Say I Love You with the Passion of Malaysian Weather was adapted from a traditional Malaysian folk tune. The title seemed a little confusing at first sight. But Ah Niu explained that it is because Malaysia has only two seasons, the dry season and the Monsoon season. So the title means I love you with a passion that matches the extreme hot weather or the fervor of the heavy rain in Malaysia. This meaning is also expressed in its lyrics. The intertwining traditional folk ballads give the song a tropical flavor.

Sheila, who is currently five months into her fourth pregnancy, said she liked Melody from the very first time she heard it. “Personally, I like the song, I think it suits my own style very well,” she said. She was also impressed that Lim composes his own songs, and did not rule out enlisting him to write some for her in future. The duet is an evident effort by musicians from different backgrounds to assimilate each others’ music styles.

Datuk Siti Nurhaliza

Several classically trained Malaysian composers have also conscientiously strived to achieve a unique Malaysian identity in the ever evolving world of 20th century art music by infusing their compositions with elements derived from the various musical cultures present in the country. The most notable of these is Valerie Ross, who has succeeded in making a name for Malaysian composers through the publication and performance of her works in the West. Adnan Abu Hassan, Hani MJ and Teng Ciang came together in 1997 to produce “Rindu Di Antara Kita”, the famous duet of local pop diva Datin Siti Nurhaliza and Teng Ciang

Malaysian composers who have succeeded in gaining international recognition through the winning of international composition competitions or national recognition through the performance of their works by leading local art music ensembles include Tan Su Lian, Raymond Kong, Razak Aziz, Sunetra Fernando, John Yong, Fauzi Musib, Chan Cheong Jan, Martha Lee, Johari Salleh, Tan Chong Yew and Alias Arshad. Other composers such as Ariff Ahmad, have carved a niche for themselves by specialising in a particular genre of music (e.g. Malay Gamelan).