Sedap Cycle: A Multi-Movement ‘Compositional Tour’ of Malaysian Cuisine

  • Wesley A. Johnson Faculty of Music and Performing Arts, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia 35900 Tanjung Malim, Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia
Keywords: autoethnography, postmodern music, Malaysian food, music composition, popular music


Sedap Cycle is a composition inspired by the author’s interaction with Malaysian cuisine. The culture surrounding each meal, the food’s components and author’s background and experience with the food inspired the musical output. The music is drawn from music connected to a food’s culture and the interpretation of tastes as musical characteristics. The creation of the music used some quantitative methods to survey Malaysians about which local foods are well-known, but largely several categories of qualitative methods to create the music, such as practice-based, practice-led and autoethnographic research. The result is a six-movement composition based on six meals in a day (four main meals and two ‘teas’) with each major movement containing a title of well-known Malaysian food (‘Nasi Lemak’, ‘Nasi Campur’, ‘Char Kuey Teow’ and ‘Roti Canai’). This piece combines Western classical and avant garde styles with traditional and popular Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and American music. While a new musical work is the primary goal, other goals include the creation of a musical form inspired by Malaysia that composers could use and the ability to relate concepts of music and composition in the Western idiom to Malaysian composers, performers and educators.

How to Cite
Johnson, W. A. (2017). Sedap Cycle: A Multi-Movement ‘Compositional Tour’ of Malaysian Cuisine. Malaysian Journal of Music, 6(1), 73-97.