Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rest in Peace Kassim Masdor

Kassim Masdor (photo above) a great Malay musician and cultural hero passed away two weeks ago on January 21st 2014......  (photo borrowed from the Straits Times obituary page )

I have really grown to love the sound and style of Kassim Masdor by following the songs of artists he wrote for... now, after talking with Ghaz, who writes below, I realized that they were all part of the Yusnor Ef and Kassim Masdor legacy .... 

I plan to do a radio mix of these songs released on Senada in the 70s sometime very soon. I will post a podcast here from the radio broadcast when I do. When I heard that Encik Masdor had passed away, I asked Ghaz (who has shared so much great information here on this blog over the years) if he could tell readers here a little bit about the late legend... and also if he could recommend some of his favorite songs by Kassim Masdor...

First off, Ghaz shares a bio that he translated from a blog called Legenda Filem Melayu:

Born in Singapore on 19 September 1938, Kassim Masdor received his early education at a Malay School. He was the only veteran composer who has been involved in Singaporean music industry for half a century, since the 1950s till the present day. The Singaporean musician was proud to learn from P. Ramlee and become his friend, whom he regarded as an elder brother. Due to poverty, he had no choice but to work in the Malays Film Productions’ studio in Jalan Ampas during his teenage life.

Kassim began to serve with Shaw Brothers’ Malay Film Productions (MFP) as a clerk in 1952. He was determined to carve his musical talent and such ambition was strengthened when he met P. Ramlee and other personalities in MFP. The young man Kassim learned about music from P. Ramlee and Osman Ahmad. He became good at playing guitar, piano and xylophone.  The challenge of working with P. Ramlee was an experience which had made him a good musician. 

Kassim recalled, “Ramlee had always forced me to work till late at night to complete his musical scores. It was a tiring but yet a wonderful experience.” By 1956, Kassim was regarded as a skillful composer and music arranger. He was also a founding member of Pancha Si-Tara, a singing group formed by P. Ramlee.

In 1968, just after Shaw Brothers decided to close its Jalan Ampas studio, Kassim was called by EMI Singapore to become a producer, composer and music arranger there. Throughout his five-year tenure with EMI, Kassim produced more than 60 albums, hence was highly regarded as a prominent composer by the end of 1960s until 1970s. 

The Malay music throughout the 1960s dan 1970s was dominated by the works of  Kassim Masdor, which featured singers such as Kartinah Dahari, Ahmad Daud, Ahmad Jais, Rafeah Buang, Sanisah Huri, Sharifah Aini, Rahimah Rahim, Fazedah Joned and many others.

In addition, with a Mr. Teo and Yusnor Ef, Kassim formed Senada Records in 1974. He was the musical director for 18 films produced both in Singapore and Malaysia. As to-date, Kassim has composed more than 400 songs, the lyrics of which were written by his friend, Yusnor Ef, another pupil of P.Ramlee. 

In October 2002, Kassim was awarded the Lifelong Achievement Awards by the The Professional Malay Musicians’ Association of Singapore (PERKAMUS) in conjunction with its 10th anniversary.

Ghaz adds : 

"Kassim Masdor, together with our Cikgu Yusnor Ef, composed many of the most popular 'evergreen' Malay songs. 

I personally rate the Kassim Masdor - Yusnor Ef duo at par with that of your Rodgers - Hammerstein."  

Among my favourite from Kassim's composition include: 1. Gelisah (Ahmad Jais & Dendang Perindu) - 1966 2. Lambaran Terakhir (Ahmad Jais & Dendang Perindu) - 1966 3. Zunika (A. Romzi & The Hooks) - 1967

4. Aku, Dia Dan Lagu (Saloma & Dendang Perindu) - 1969

5. Sedih Sekelip Mata (Sanisah Huri & Clique Fantastique) - 1970

The lyrics for all the above songs were written by Cikgu Yusnor Ef."


Thanks again to Ghaz for sharing this valuable information about this legend who passed away recently.

I will be posting some youtube clips and hopefully a radio podcast set here soon too....

Rest in Peace Kassim Masdor... may your music continue to live in our hearts....


  1. "Sesungguhnya kami adalah kepunyaan Allah dan kepada Allah jualah kami kembali"

  2. I'm sad to learn of the passing of another legend in Malay music. His works will live on....
    Thanks Carl.