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Shueh-li Ong: Music From Another Land

Shueh-li Ong playing the Moog Etherwave Pro
Shueh-li Ong playing the Moog Etherwave Pro.

The former question brings us to talk about your musical, and more generally artistic training since from your notes I see that you’re not only a musician. Please, tell me about it.

I was trained at the Elder Conservatory as a concert pianist. At the same time I studied electronic music and worked as a producer of the fine music segment at the local radio station. Nagras, cartridges and reel to reel were de rigueur. I went on to research and experiment in the area of Extended Interactive Multimedia Performance where I taught myself 2D and 3D animation. I developed my own style and eventually made my living as a multi-media artist/composer and ran a midi studio with my Electric Muse business partner. These skills saw me in good stead when IT made a big splash in Singapore, where I moved to head the marketing and software development (retail CDs) departments of a multimedia company. To this day I am still involved in creative writing, digital design and layout; my portfolio lists writer/reviewer, playwright, website and corporate image developer and concert producer as my many guises.

I’d like to know more about your activity as an instrument builder.

In Electric Muse (I am Director of this performance art company etsb.1998 in Singapore), we specialize in creating shows that demonstrate a confluence of new technology with old and man-made instruments. We have made for our own use midi systems, applications using CSOUND that work in tandem with trigger systems and simple instruments made out of new and found material. We might extend the purpose of a basic instrument to play a new role, a method I use in live performance regularly known as extended synthesizer performance techniques.

I consider putting a show together the making of an instrument. This is especially true when I sound design a black box to accommodate a performance system to work the magic in my composition. As a composer, I endeavor to always write music (melodies and songs) along with movements that evoke emotional and physical responses. In the latter, special attention is made to placement of speakers such as having sub-woofers under bleaches to send that all-important subliminal sensation; you can’t quite hear it but you can feel it!

Your CD is very well produced (sounds good) and, in fact, I read that you’re a producer. Have you ever produced other artists or planning to do so?

Producing other artists’ CDs is in the pipeline. I am working with John as Fingerfoot Music Productions in this area while in the USA. Our Music Academie in Keller Texas is also a place where we hope to locate and develop talent.

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