Posts Tagged ‘Creative Commons’

This sketch has a story behind it.

We were walking past the neighborhood playground last Saturday evening, when we heard the voices of two little girls ringing out loud.

The younger one, aged about three, was sitting at the top of the slide. Her father was keeping an eye on her close by. The older one, who’s about five years old, was standing at the bottom. Imagine the following exchange going on at the top of their bell-like voices.

Younger girl: What’s your name?
Older girl: Vanessa.
Younger girl: (Turned to her father excitedly.) She’s Anissa!
Father: Anissa?
Younger girl: (Turned to face the older girl.) What’s your name?!
Older girl: Vanessa!!
Younger girl: Papa, she’s Ganesha!!
Father: (Stunned.) Ganesha??
Younger girl: (Turning to the older girl again.) What’s your name?!!!
Older girl: VANESSA!!!

At which point, little Vanessa decided that she had had enough of the “what’s your name” game that was getting nowhere. So she darted round the slide toward the rocking horse at the other side of the playground.

Then to our amusement, she hopped onto the rocking horse and started rocking to and fro so forcefully that her thick, long hair started flying in all directions and sweeping across her tiny face.

Looked like little Vanessa has the makings of an angsty headbanging rocker chick. At the tender age of five.



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Sing a melody and everyone around you could be playing it to a different beat in his/her head.

That’s what I realised after making my latest half-yearly appearance on my ccMixter (ccM) page. (In case you are wondering, ccM is a Creative Commons-licensed music-sharing site and home to an international music-loving community.)

I was halfway through the first of John Campbell’s two-volume biography of Margaret Thatcher when “The Iron Lady” reached our shores.

The combination of Campbell’s vivid writing and Meryl Streep’s exemplary acting set me thinking: what could have gone through a person’s mind – and a famously tough one – when she was faced with naysayers and obstacles in her path to the top?

So I wrote a song.

The title, “Heart of Steel”, is admittedly nothing creative for a song inspired by a book and a film about a lady with a metallic nickname.

It’s not a political commentary, just a song about an imaginary emotional world of a person. This person could be anybody.

In our quotidian lives, we too would come across people who do not share our dreams and beliefs, challenge us or even try to put us down. I’m not doing a poll here but my guess is that there could perhaps be some kind of universal experience shared by those determined souls who doggedly pursue their dreams and succeed against all odds.

Anyway, when the Muse visits, he would usually present me with either the lyrics or the melody each time. It’s always one or the other, but they hardly appear together. So I was somewhat excited when the lyrics and melody came to me together this time. This is definitely a rarer occurrence than the transit of Venus happening next week.

And so, I recorded this vocal track on my iMac with an imaginary piano playing in my head. (No, I still can’t play any instrument decently.) I had to keep my imaginary accompaniment simple; it can get rather confusing when I record a cappella stems without any real music track.

Not long after posting the stems on ccM, I received two pleasant surprises.

One fellow ccM musician, Jeris, showed me that this track could be given a Celtic treatment. Another ccM musician, stellarartwars, responded later with a dubstep version.

This is amazing.

The beauty of music mesh-ups is that you can’t predict what you’re going to get when you share your music. And it is intriguing how people could come up with songs that sound so different when they are presented with the same raw materials.

I don’t know how this works in our brains.

One thing’s for sure: this world gets a lot more musically interesting when we share the songs playing silently in our heads.

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A long time ago when I was still doing radio shows, one of the regular guests on my shows was a cosmetic surgeon.

Every week, he would come onto my programme and speak about the curious world of nips, tucks and lifts. And he would always amaze me with his stories of how people, celebrities and ordinary folks alike, transform themselves into more aesthetically pleasing creatures.

One of the enlightening things I’ve learnt from him was that they have a measurement called the Golden Ratio that could mathematically define the perfect human face.

Sometimes I wonder, if indeed all of us could achieve the perfect look, won’t we end up resembling one another?

Some days ago, I chanced upon some YouTube clips comparing photographs of Korean and Japanese celebrities taken before and after they had nose or eye jobs, face lifts, or even jaw reduction surgeries.

Seriously, some of them look like twins or triplets.

So I wrote a song.

And this is how the lyrics go:


Make Belief

By I-Ling (@myvanillaworld)

Your big, round eyes

And that lovely nose

Long thick lashes

Wish I had those

Those endless legs

Looks that turn heads

You had me believing

That’s the way to be


My dreams are big

But they say I’m too short

There’s no way I can climb onto

The stage or catwalk


This body in the mirror

Needs more than a tuck

It is so hard to be like you

I don’t know where to start


But how am I to think I am beautiful

When you are always showing me I am not

And how am I to learn to love the way I am

If they adore you ‘cos you’ve changed everything


And how am I to believe I am beautiful

When you are always telling me I am not

But how am I to learn to love the way I am

‘Cos they love you when you are not yourself

‘Cos they love you when you are someone else


And I came up with a tune for it.

So now it’s up in the ccMixter universe, waiting for some GarageBand gurus who would be interested enough to perform their “surgeries” on it.

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I had originally intended to time this entry with the January 3 online release of 2010 Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula, the latest Creative Commons music album by Starfish Stories :: The Band.

2010 Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula by Starfish Stories :: The Band (CC-BY-2.0)

The band comprises my friend, Ivan Chew a.k.a. the Rambling Librarian (who really is a librarian), and his equally brainy bandmate Adrian Loo. And Ivan was kind enough to give me a sneak preview.

But fate has it that I had to be knocked out of action on the eve of New Year’s Eve, to end 2009 on a feverish high, before crossing over to 2010 with a prolonged spell of gut disorders. All thanks to a stale sandwich. No more egg mayo for the next three months.

’nuff said about me. Back to the music.

I was first introduced to Starfish Stories’ music through Ivan’s CD copy of their second album One World One Moment 2010 Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula is the duo’s third. With their high output, I won’t be surprised if their fourth is ready before mid-2010, but nay, let’s lay off the pressure on the guys.

As I was putting this post together, I also revisited the band’s first album SeaStars 2007 – the curious me is always listening for the changes in a musician or band’s sounds. Not sure if my ears are right, but I thought that the guys are showing more versatility than before.

My personal picks from their 2010 album are the title track Crystal Tears and The Dream Nebula 2010 and Stroke of Midnight v2.3.

Crystal Tears nicely captures the feel that the title suggests. The steady buildup at the beginning sets the perfect mood for this track. I could almost see the bursts of heavenly colours in my head and hear some distant stars fizzle out at various intervals. The highs and lows are nicely balanced, and I like the little touches that the band has put in, like the edgy noise at 1’12” that balances the airy feel of the warm pad without going overboard. So it’s somewhat like watching meteoroids pass you by as you traverse the duo’s musical galaxy, without heading dangerously into an overcrowded meteoroid cluster.

There’s something mischievous about Stroke of Midnight that makes it fun to listen to. I almost laughed when I heard the first chime of the clock. I don’t know why but the picture that came to my mind was that of Cinderella on the run, on roller blades. That probably wasn’t what the guys had in mind, but that incongruous image aside, I enjoyed the drum work and the mean guitar playing in this fast-paced track.

This time round, the band has also very kindly included my croaks in Goodnight Not Goodbye v2.2, a song written by Ivan. Thank you, guys!

And for a hint of what’s to come in their next album, they have included the teaser track, Thank You. Interestingly, the Asian character in their New Age/Indie music is becoming increasingly pronounced.

Perhaps that’s what music-making is all about – developing your style, rediscovering yourself, and finally, defining your own brand of music.

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