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Shueh-li Ong: Music From Another Land

Shueh-li Ong playing the Guqin
Shueh-li Ong playing the Guqin.

Tell me about the Guqin.

The Guqin has a 3000 year-old history. It is a 7-stringed zither, like a Koto but with no bridge nor frets. The soundhole is almost absent being so tiny. More than 100 harmonics can be played on the guqin. In 2004 it was designated by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

I have carefully selected my instruments to represent my musical training, which is by no means complete. It will take me many MANY more years to learn to play them well (I am also a singer and synthesizer performer). As they say, education is a life-long experience!

As for the diverse musical cultures, yes the mash-up emerge clearly from the Electronica context. But what does that mean? Does it have to do with your personal history and/or artistic forming? Is it something only related to your last work or is it an integral part of your musical style? And what are your main musical influences?

All of the above Valerio. I was after all born in Australia (southern hemisphere) lived and worked in Singapore (1.5deg Nth of the equator) had western classical, music technology and ethnomusicology training besides playing a slew of instruments from these diverse and pop backgrounds.

Each Xenovibes CD has its own theme and objective and “Music From Another Land” the latest is no exception. Depending what I do, I have been labeled classical, esoteric, pop, electronica, artsy. Having worked in theatre and large format esoteric shows, Xenovibes was a deliberate effort to present these ideas to the general public in a form whereby they could enjoy my musical persuasions and performance instruments. My influences? I get excited and intrigued by clever arrangements and sounds, lyrics and production and of course major iconic styles in the history of music both esoteric and pop.

In “Music From Another Land” John lent his background in funk, jazz and latin rhythms to my inclinations. I am of the opinion that there has been no clear demarcation between west and east, north and south for a long time now. We are all east meets west etc etc. Call it fusion if you like.

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