U Maung Maung Zaw Htet aka Diramore is a Myanmar Academy award-winning musician. The stage name Diramore was given by his father and eldest brother before his debut. The word “Dira” was taken from the Pali Language and meant “Wisdom”. The next word “More” was taken as a reference to “Mount Myint Mo”. Hence, the name “Diramore” implies “The Wiser One”.
Maung Maung Zaw Htet
National University of Arts and Culture , Yangon
Composer, Vocalist, Music Director, Music Producer, Conductor
2000 – present
Diramore was born in Kawkareik, Kayin State, Myanmar, on 4th June, 1974, from U Htun Naing and Daw Nyunt Nwe. He is the youngest among his siblings: five brothers and a sister. The eldest brother inspired him to be interested in music since he was young. At the age of twelve, he became part of his brothers’ band and performed at the parties, events and seasonal festivals in Mawlamyine. In 1992, he passed the matriculation exam with Physics distinction, from BEHS (4), Mawlamyine.
When the National University of Arts and Culture (NUAC) officially opened in 1993, Diramore enrolled in this university and became one of the 1st batch students majoring in Music. During his years as a student at NUAC, Diramore determined to choose Music as his career. At that time, his ambition was to be a composer who is able to create not only Rock and Pop songs but also Classical pieces. Therefrom, he started composing songs and tried to persuade popular singers of that time to buy his songs. However, the songs were not accepted by those singers and he was not willing to create his songs for someone’s preference. Thus, he stopped persuading others and made a decision to sing his own songs.
Initially, Diramore was not very interested in Myanmar traditional music. After learning more and more about Myanmar traditional music at the university, he began to recognize and appreciate the core value and the beauty of traditional music. Later, he entered the National Level Myanmar Traditional Performing Arts Competitions, specializing in such Myanmar traditional instruments as Hne, Oozi, Doe Pat, and achieved gold, silver and bronze medals. Moreover, he gained knowledge of recording, dubbing, and film music production from some great intellects like U Ko Ko, U Hla Htut, U Tin Yee, Trumpet Win Oo, and so on. In 1997, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Music.
Then, in 2003, Diramore won a full scholarship from Monbukegokusho Scholarship Program of Japan. Thus, in Japan, he continued to study as a research student until 2004, and completed his master’s degree in Music Composition from Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai), in 2006. The name of contemporary composition Diramore submitted for his master’s degree was “End of This Life”. The piece was originally inspired by a Myanmar traditional tune called “Byaing Taung (a melody usually played at the funerals)”. It described a human’s feelings before death and involved five different sections: regaining consciousness, memories, pain, the door of death, and the end. It took a year for him to complete this piece. Besides, during his years in Japan, Diramore played as a member of Bunkyo Amateur Orchestra.
It is possible to describe that Diramore’s career comprises two parts because he has been working both as a government official and a musician.
In 1997, Diramore graduated his first degree, and was appointed as a tutor at the Department of Music, NUAC, in 1998. Afterwards, Diramore won a scholarship and continued his study for the second degree, in Japan, from 2003 to 2006. In 2007, he became an assistant lecturer at the Department of Music, NUAC (Ygn). From 2010 to 2011, Diramore worked as an assistant director at the Ministry of Culture. In 2011, he was transferred to NUAC (Ygn) as an associate professor of music. He became Professor/ Head of Music Department, NUAC (Ygn) in 2013 and got promoted as Prorector (teaching) of NUAC (Mdy) in 2019.
Regarding his life as a musician, Diramore is actively working as a composer, singer, music director, and music producer.
In the year 2000, with his first solo album “Guitar Shi Lar (Do You Have a Guitar?)”, Diramore debuted as a composer and singer. Chronologically, the second solo album “Kyanaw Nae Gita (Music and I)” was released in 2008; the third solo album “Lamin Phan Pwel (Race of Catching the Moon)” in 2012; and the fourth solo album “Myit O Gyi (The Old River)” in 2016. As a singer, he collaborated with some musicians from foreign countries. In 2016, Diramore and the Japanese singer Suwa Junko dropped a single named “Friends” for Kumamoto Earthquake relief fund. The next year, a single named “Phayar Pay Su (God’s Reward)” was released as a result of the collaboration between Diramore and Joss Stone, during her Total World Tour.
The year when Diramore founded “Gita Kabyar” Orchestra (formerly “Opera” Orchestra) and began to work as a music director was in 2002. The earliest performance of Diramore and his orchestra was a live recorded album named “Chitthu Doe Ye Mingalar Tay”. Some of his achievements as a music director include: Opening and Closing Ceremonies of 2013 SEA Games as well as 2014 ASEAN Para Games; Opening Ceremonies of Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards in 2017, 2018 and 2019 ; Japan-Myanmar Festivals; and collaborations with ASEAN-RUSSIA Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra for Myanmar, Taipei Civic Orchestra, and BBC Symphony Orchestra. In 2016, he was awarded by the Charles Wallace Burma Trust (UK-registered Charity), and went to University of Bristol, England, as a visiting fellow for three months. During the visit, he not only arranged orchestral version of Myanmar Classical song “Ywe Ta Nyar” for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra for Myanmar and New Children’s Choir; but also gave a presentation about Myanmar Classical Music at the Faculty of Arts, Bristol University. In addition, Diramore founded the NUAC Orchestra in 2016 with music students from National University of Arts and Culture, Yangon, and staged the NUAC Orchestra Concerts annually until 2018. Plus, he contributed as a music director in the concerts of some locally popular singers like Wai La, Lynn Lynn, Kyar Pauk, Sai Sai Kham Leng, Ni Ni Khin Zaw, and so on.
Next, Diramore’s career as a film score composer and music producer was activated in 2004, with the film “Chit Thaw Arimadanapura Ii Mahar Aung Pwel” directed by Kyi Phyu Shin. In fact, he is a two-time winner of Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Award for Best Music. The first time was with the film “Zawka Ka Nay The (Zawgyi is Dancing)” in 2009, and the second time, with “Luu Yadanar Thike (Luu Treasure Trove)” in 2016. Additionally, Diramore won Best Music Score Award from Epic Animation, Comic and Game Festival 2016, USA, with the animated short film “My Life I Don’t Want” directed by Nyan Kyal Say. Thus far, he has composed and produced music for more than 50 films.
On top of his endeavors, Diramore attempted to preserve and promote Myanmar Traditional Music. In 2013, he began a project named “Beauty of Tradition” in which a hundred of Myanmar Traditional songs were researched, organized and rerecorded. Then he cooperated with the Japanese Music Production Company, Airplane Label, and released three Myanmar Traditional Music albums in Japan during 2014 and 2015, under the name “Beauty of Tradition”. However, it was assumed that collecting only a hundred songs would not be enough in preserving Myanmar Traditional Music. Therefore, the project was broadened into a collection of 1,000 Myanmar Traditional songs and renamed as “Gita Yadana”. The aim of this project is to build a massive interactive archive where a thousand of old and rare Myanmar Traditional songs with high-resolution audio can be easily observed. Each song in the project was researched, organized, and rerecorded with the help of veteran traditional musicians around the country and of the Japanese audio engineer, Hiroshi Iguchi. The project was made up of seven categories, namely: Maha Gita (Classical Music), Kar La Paw (Traditional Contemporary Music), Thabin Gita (Dramatic Music), Myanmar Hsaing (Traditional Ensemble), Kyay Let Gita (Folk Music), Nat Chin (Spiritual Music), and Let Swam Pya (Instrumental Solos). The project was planned to release into nine volumes. In 2018, “Gita Yadana” was launched, and the very first volume of the project was released on both international and local streaming sites like Spotify, MMN and JOOX. Until the end of 2019, five volumes under the name “Gita Yadana” had been released.
Being a teacher and a musician, Diramore never hesitates to share knowledge of music every chance he gets. He used to make contributions to numerous local workshops, seminars, and classes of government agencies as well as private schools like ILBC, Yangon Music School, MMDC, etc. On the other hand, he is still working on as a composer, singer, music director, and music producer.
Diramore married to May Htoo in 2008. They are now parents of three children.