When composer Ng Chor Guan started commuting by bicycle in car-obsessed Malaysia a decade ago, he was struck by how quickly his city was changing and the sounds he would not have heard if he had been driving.

It led him to start recording the everyday sounds of Malaysian cities, one of a growing number of artists in Asia from India to Hong Kong who are seeking to preserve audible heritage in the region's fast-changing urban hubs.

"Sound has many powerful hidden messages. It's not only about recording a certain event, but also the evolution of a place," said Ng, 39, who records urban soundscapes from pockets of jungle to communal areas threatened by redevelopment.