Monday, April 30, 2007

The walks

Originally uploaded by oceanskies79.

One step
Then the next
Each stride
Links me to memories
Of the past

Years ago
I had walked this same path
Now this place
No longer looks the same
Like how it used to be years ago

During moments of lost
Moments of despair
These were the walkways
My feet had brought me
To seek solitude
And comfort
The walks had brought me

Would often stop by
To feed my mind
With knowledge from books
And a quiet spot to read

The walks
They've got me connected
With the past
The present
And the dreams I have of the future

I ask for guidance

Life's now like an aimless game
There are goals
Yet too distant beyond grasp
Nevertheless one trudges on with hope

Too much unanswered
I ask
It's blank space
I'm searching in the lost

I ask for guidance
From within
And beyond me

To piece the puzzles
Life has presented to me

Sunday, April 29, 2007

What PY would shop for

Some of my colleagues and friends would have observed me looking lost or bored when they start to talk about places to shop for value-for-money fashion, the various designs of shoes and so forth. Yes, I was. When I was at places like Central and Square 2, I found myself unable to comprehend what draws people to these shopping malls. There was hardly any shop (except maybe the eating places) that would attract me to visit these malls on a regular basis!

Anyway, I have gradually learn to realise that I am not a person from the mainstream. I do shop, and the following would be things that I would be glad to shop for:

Music-related books

Thanks to my music theory tutor, who obviously is a supporter of the publications written by the late Prof. William Lovelock, I have found myself visiting the Yamaha at Plaza Singapura shopping mall to get my supplies of such publication. While doing so, I would find myself browsing many other music-related books found right there. I could say that Yahama has quite a fairly interesting collection of reference materials that would suit my preferences than those found in Music Essential, another store that sells music-related publication.

Page One also carries interesting music-related publications, so I would usually find myself at the Page One section of the Kinokuniya bookstore at Ngee Ann City shopping mall.

It has became a necessity to shop for such books as I needed a couple of good music reference books to refer to so as to write decent programme notes for the DipABRSM exams.

Double Bass related scores and books

I also like to shop for double bass scores. After much search around the known parts of Singapore, I have found out that Gramercy Music is by far the shop in Singapore with the most extensive collection of double bass scores and method books. Most double bass players who are sitting for ABRSM Grade 5 to 8 practical examinations could find some of scores at Gramercy Music required for their exams. Do check it out Gramercy Music out if you are a double bass players sitting for ABRSM of those mentioned grades.

However, there is actually quite a limited collection of double bass scores and books available in Singapore. As such, I have found myself purchasing many of such items directly from online sources as such Lemur Music.

Double Bass Accessories

My friend, Mystic, may start to exclaim if she were to know I am still looking for a double bass bow case that suits my needs. I remember that two years ago, Mystic, had been so nice to travel all about Singapore with me to search for a suitable double bass bow case, but I did not find one that had pleased me enough.

It is worthwhile to shop for double bass accessories because these items will certainly come in handy since I play the double bass fairly regularly. Furthermore, I get to know what limited choices a double bass player in Singapore would have when it comes to shopping for double bass accessories.

Books in general

I remember Emily telling me that most music-students and music-professors would find themselves either in shops selling music-records or books. I suppose there are some truth in it, because I prefer shopping for books than shopping for fashion.

Books related to visual arts, architecture, travel, culture, anthropology, music and ancient civilisations tend to attract my eyes and interest. Reading is good, it enriches the mind.


I usually don't buy recordings because I can't find interesting double bass recordings in Singapore. I also realise that if I do buy recordings, I do not listen to them on a very regular basis, so I figured it might be a more cost-effective way to simply listen to music from 92.4 F.M. over the radio. In addition, I can go the library@esplanade to borrow recordings from the library.

Anyway, I do find myself window-shopping at shops that sells CD and music-recordings. HMV and Borders generally have a few collections of double bass related CDs that would be available for sale, so I usually visit either one of these.

If I do purchase the recording of any symphonies, I will definitely get a recording of a complete symphony, and not one with an excerpt of it. When I see CD compilations containing excerpts of many symphonies in the stores, and I realised that I will put them back onto the shelves once I realised that those were excerpts and not complete works. It may be just me, I prefer listening to complete symphonies than excerpts of symphonies.

I have been looking around for one particular CD, but have yet to find it. It's: Arthur Rubinstein - Chopin 19 Nocturnes (ASIN: B000031WBV). If you were to see it in Singapore, please do let me know?

Having written the above, I am quite interested to know what my peers would shop for and their motivations for shopping for these things. For one thing, I still can't quite figure out what makes some of my friends willing to spend a substantial amount of their money on fashion. If it were me, I would have saved it to buy a better double bass.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Week 17 of year 2007 on the double bass

22 Apr 2007, Sun: Practised the Rondo movement from Keyper's Romance and Rondo. As requested by my tutor, I practised it at a slower tempo and made sure that I was keeping time well enough.

It now seems boring just to play for myself. I hope I could step up on my practice so that my rendition of the various pieces would be good enough to play for friends and supporters.

23 Apr 2007, Mon: I did some sight-reading of various parts from two sets of double bass duets. I was trying to have an idea which duet would sound nice.

Afterwhich, I took some time to practise some sections from Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro.

26 Apr 2007, Thu: Double bass lesson day! My tutor, MJ, reminded me that when I play on the double bass, I should not be focused on playing the notes, I should make music by playing the phrases.

We went through some sight-reading exercises today. My goodness, I need to brush up on sight-reading. Either MJ has chosen too difficult sight-reading exercises for me, or I am still needing more work on sight-reading. I can't help but feel worried for the sight-reading component of the upcoming exams.

I also worked on the Rondo movement of Keyper's Romance and Rondo for the rest of the lesson. I was learning to make a clearer and nicer tone on the double bass. MJ also wanted me to play the notes in the groups of semiquavers in even tone.

I love the sound that MJ has made when he plays on the double bass, and I wish I could soon play that kind of sound. I figured that to do that, having enough good practices is the answer. I want more time to practise. Sometimes I feel like giving up several things so that I can have more time to practise.

27 Apr 2007, Fri: I was in the mood to play the double bass. My fingers were itching to play on it.

For the night, I worked close to an hour on the double bass practising the entire Keyper's Romance and Rondo. The tone of my playing sounds slightly better than it used to be, yet I would like it fuller, rounder and clearer. More work to be done. Practise, practise, and practise. Loving the practice.

28 Apr 2007, Sat: No practice on this day. I did some research to gather information to write the programme notes for the DipABRSM. For now, I just feel like sleeping early, so I shalln't practise today.

Not as productive a week as I would like. Then again, I can hear that the tone of my playing has improved. I have also achieved the set target for this week.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Living under the Crescent Moon

National Museum of Singapore

On 1 May 2007, it happens to be a public holiday in Singapore. If you are feeling unsure how to spend your day in Singapore, I would like to recommend that you could consider checking out the exhibition: Living Under the Crescent Moon: Domestic Culture in the Arab World. From my past few visits to this exhibitions, I have gained some insights to the homes and household interiors of the Arab world.

This exhibition is now held at the National Museum of Singapore, Exhibition Gallery Two, from 22 March to 21 May 2007. Admission is free. The opening hours of this exhibition is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

I have posted a post on my visits to this exhibition on, and here's the link: Living Under the Crescent Moon: Domestic Culture in the Arab World. Please do support me by reading my post. Thank you.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Chen Wen Hsi's art printed on stamps

Eastcoastlife's recent post on her stamp-collecting hobby reminded me that I still have some materials that I could blog about on Chen Wen Hsi and his art.

I figured that even if stamp-collectors are not avid lovers of art, their lives would have been enriched in some ways by inspiring works of art. What makes me say so? I realised that there are several stamps that have been issued that have images of artworks by established artists printed on them.

Many thanks to Dr Tan Wee Kiat, who is one of the authors of the book Singapore's Monuments & Landmarks: A Philatelic Ramble, I found out that in 1995, a series of stamps that focused on works by local artists had been issued. One of these stamps contains an image of a work by Chen Wen Hsi. I do not have a clue which work of Chen Wen Hsi this stamp was based on, but I suppose avid stamp-collectors who are attracted to this stamp would probably attempt to find out more about Chen Wen Hsi and his art?

CS Philatelic Agency's website has documented this series of stamps, so do check it out here: (scroll down to 1995 Art Series - Local Artists).

At the same time, Dr Tan shared with me that even much earlier, in 1972, another of Chen Wen Hsi's work has also been printed on stamps.

Not just one, but at least two issues of stamps have featured Chen Wen Hsi's works. The two that I am aware of happen to be related to his works on gibbons. So it seems to me that Chen Wen Hsi's works on the subject matter of gibbons are popular favourites. It is quite interesting for myself to note how stamps can offer a quick overview to the cultural scene in Singapore.

Chen Wen Hsi had practised art in a variety of art styles and using various techniques, but it seems to me that Chen Wen Hsi is best remembered for his works on the subject matter of gibbons. I understand from the Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition that Chen Wen Hsi had started rearing gibbons when he first chanced upon one in a pet shop in Singapore. I could suppose that since he was able to observe gibbons (and several other kinds of animals) in close proximity in his own home, he could better study gibbons and familiarise himself with the various postures and parts of the gibbon. No wonder there is something special about the gibbons that Chen Wen Hsi painted: They looked life-like.

Well, if that is the case, I suppose it won't do much harm to end this post with photos of Chen Wen Hsi's Gibbons (1977). This work is commissioned by the Central Provident Fund Board. In the painting, you don't just see one, but you will fourteen gibbons. I suppose this would be a treat to those who love Chen Wen Hsi's gibbons.

Chen Wen Hsi's Gibbons (1977)
Special thanks to Singapore Art Museum for giving the permission for this photo to be taken.

My eyes were particularly attracted to the gibbon that is all alone by itself. Solitude can have a calming effect.

If you would still want to know more about Chen Wen Hsi and his art, you could check the following posts written by me:
Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition
Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, Part II
Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, Part III

This post has been posted on on 21 April 2007:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Happy Birthday to JY

It is my friend's, JY's, birthday today and since she is also part of my blogging community, there are certainly enough reasons to celebrate her birthday via a blog post.

She has written a post on 25 April 2007 on how she has spent her day. Seems like it has been a break away from the regular work routine. I think she deserves some pampering on her birthday.

Now, here's a photo that I have selected to share with her. It is the photograph of The Padang, Malay for Field.

Originally uploaded by oceanskies79.

This place has a rich history.

Also see:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

An afternoon at Kampong Glam

Sultan Mosque

I have grown to like Kampong Glam. I find it a fairly idyllic place with an interesting heritage. I love the looks of the shophouses there. I think my liking for the area had started when I went for The Original Singapore Walks, Sultans of Spice, by Journeys Pte Ltd (you can read my post on the walk here).

Subsequently, I have also visited it on a few other occasions:
- To view the Singapore Biennale 2006 site at Sultan Mosque
- To attend Cultural Clubbing at the Malay Heritage Centre
- Dinner with Emily

I think Kampong Glam is a place deserving of a visit. However, Kampong Glam seems comparatively less well-known to my peers as compared to places such as Orchard Road and Suntec City. As such, where circumstances permit, I shall do my part to introduce Kampong Glam to my friends.


On the afternoon of 21 April, I met up with one of my friends, XS. It has been more than four years since I have last met and kept in touch with XS. I felt that I was meeting a long-lost friend.

I suggested to have lunch at Alaturka, located in Kampong Glam. XS was kind to go along with my suggestion. I personally think that Alaturka has a nice ambience, fairly good food and thoughtful service. At least the waitresses were nice to allow me to take photographs of the restaurant when I asked for permission.

Interior of Alaturka

At the restaurant, XS shared her observations of one of the ornaments found in the restaurant. I later found out from sources on the internet that this ornament is known as Nazar Boncuk. It looks like a blue glass piece, and is known to have the powers to protect one from the "Evil Eye".

Back to lunch. We ordered Dolma (Grape leaves with spices rice), Lavash (Lavash), Mutton Musakka (special Mediterranean eggplant with mutton). For beverage, I ordered the Turkish Apple Tea while XS ordered the Turkish Coffee.

Dolma: A rather novel dish wrapped with grape leaves.
I wonder where the grape leaves had came from?

XS told me that the Turkish coffee had a "thicker texture" in terms of its smell. I did not drink the coffee but it looked rather rich from where I was sitting. She also shared with me some information about dolma. That day was the very first time in our lives that we have eaten dolma.

Having tried the Chicken Musakka, I think Mutton Musakka smells nicer and tasted better than the Chicken version. Nevertheless, Musakka is good.

Mutton Musakka

Other than enjoying the lunch, we caught up with one another. I felt glad that we have the chance to catch up with one another. Certain things in life cannot be taken for granted.

To end the lunch, both of us ordered the Spangile which was basically chocolate mousse. I think it tasted good. The texture of it was smooth. At the very least, my heart could sense that there is sincerity in making this dessert.

Spangile. Yummy.

I personally think that Alaturka has charming deco and nice food. Alaturka deserves more patronage, so do consider checking it out if you should visit Kampong Glam, Singapore.

Here's its address and contact details:

Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant
16 Bussorah Street Singapore 199437
Tel/Fax: 62940304

After the lunch, we headed for and visited Sultan Mosque. Do read my post, The Kampong Glam Walk, to find out more about Sultan Mosque. It was mentioned in G.Byrne Bracken's A Walking Tour: Singapore that the base of Sultan Mosque's glided dome is decorated with bottles. If you don't believe, look closer at the dark-green-colour base of the dome. If you were to read Singapore: The Encyclopedia, you would learn that these glass bottles were donations from the poor. In short, one could say that Sultan Mosque has been made possible with the contributions from everyone in the community: young and old, rich and poor.

Afterwhich, we headed for the Malay Heritage Centre (also known by many as the Istana Kampong Glam). XS generously sponsored the visit to the museum, and we caught sights of works of Turkish art. I was intrigued by the art of ebru (the Turkish art of marbling) especially. I am aware of a YouTube video on this art form. Check it out here:
The Islamic art of calligraphy also captivated my attention. I think it would be perfect if the organiser could put video recordings to show masters at work on the ebru and Islamic calligraphy.

I see that Malay Heritage Centre has the potential to become a must-see museum in Singapore. Basically, the site of the Malay Heritage Centre has a rich background of history and heritage. The landscaped garden of the Malay Heritage Centre offers beautiful sights for its visitors. Hopefully it can get much more support from the community so that it has the funds to work on enhancing its collections and to fund more in-depth research on the Kampong Glam community in Singapore.

By the way, on 1 May 2007, you may wish to join Singapore Idols Taufik and Hady at a fund-raising event held at the Malay Heritage Centre.

Soon it was time to say farewell, a temporary one, I hope. Meantime, wishing XS best wishes in her endeavours. I shall hope for her that she will find what she truly desires in life.

Also see:

  • G.Byrne Bracken's (2004) A Walking Tour: Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Private Limited.
  • Singapore: The Encyclopedia.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Memories of Kallang Theatre

Love it or hate it, I shall write a few more posts related to my 15 years of relationship with the double bass.

Earlier last month, I have written a post, Getting ready for my first major performance, NY Nite. If you do care to know, my first major performance was staged at the Kallang Theatre.

One of the first necessary things to do before the performance was to transport the instrument from the school to the Theatre. For your information, yours truly was a student of a girls' school in my secondary school days. There wasn't such a thing as getting the males to help. There were a few male teachers but they were very few in comparison. However, as I looked back, it might have been a blessing in disguise. Since I figured that there isn't many males to turn to for help, I have learnt to become more self-reliant: Just do it. No rule says that carrying heavy things is only meant to be left to the males.

I remember that school buses were used to transport the double basses and many of the other Chinese instruments to Kallang Theatre. One of the challenges was to manoeuvre the double bass so that it could be carried safely up the bus.

When we reached the Kallang Theatre, the next thing to do was to proceed to the holding area. The Chinese Orchestra that I was a member of was assigned a holding area somewhere on the basement level, if my memory does not fail me.

Photo Credits: Photo taken from Access to Archives, Singapore. PhotoCD Number: 19980001184, Image Number: 0034. This photo of the exterior of the Kallang Theatre was taken in year 1986.

One thing I particularly remember was the exciting times that I have had when I ventured about the various dressing rooms, the various holding areas and various other corners of the Kallang Theatre. I could do so only during the allocated waiting time, when the other performance groups were rehearsing their items on stage. It was fun. Kallang Theatre felt like a maze to me. Thankfully, my sense of direction was good enough to guide me back to the Chinese's Orchestra's holding area.

NY Nite was such a major event for the school in those days that a performer could be excused from classes. Yours truly admittedly enjoyed the privilege of taking a break from the normal routine of studying in the class-room.

The greatest challenge I would think was carrying the double bass from the holding area right up to the stage. There were many flights of stairs to take just to get to the stage. I remember the stairs were fairly narrow. I was literally walking like a crab up the stairs. Furthermore, the NY Nite in year 1992 was staged not just on one night, but on three nights. Imagine climbing up the stairs to go the stage to perform, and then walk back down again when the performance was done. At my age then, I could imagine that I was so inexperienced at the double bass that I didn't quite know how to carry it with ease.

At a time when I was so new to the double bass, what I had appreciated most about NY Nite was not having a chance to perform on stage, it was the friendship and spirit of comradeship that was forged as a result of having spent three consecutive days and nights rehearsing and performing at the Kallang Theatre.

Another unforgettable part of the NY Nite affair was the rousing cheers that many of the performers would engage themselves in after the finale of each night's performance. The power of the female teenagers' voices, screams and cheers was certainly deafening enough to make the air in the Kallang Theatre vibrate vigorously.

Photo Credits: Photo taken from Access to Archives, Singapore. PhotoCD Number: 19980001184. Image Number: 0022. (This photo was taken in year 1986 at Kallang Theatre.)

Kallang Theatre is now no longer in operation. It has closed its doors in Mar 2006. But I know my memories of the Kallang Theatre would continue to stay.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A tinge of melancholy

Originally uploaded by oceanskies79.

I feel a tinge of melancholy
But I don't know the source of it
No tear ran
Though the throat felt choked

Maybe it is because
Of nostalgia
A feeling I can't express
For time seems to run so fast
Yet beyond my comprehension

Perhaps the tinge of melancholy
Is a reminder to me
To treasure the good things
That are now with me

Footnote: In junior college years and my earlier undergraduate years, I often took walks along the footway near those fence-like structures. Years later, the road that I used to know is no longer there, and replacing it is a large area of green land. The library that used to sit nearby is gone too. But the memories stay.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

At Novena with SH and JY

Velocity @ Novena Square

Earlier this week on Sunday, SH, JY and I met at this part of Singapore that is commonly known as Novena. Novena is quite easily accessible by the MRT trains.

There are several fairly new malls to the Novena area. First of all, I cannot help but introduce my visitors to the hype-looking Velocity @ Novena Square (please see the photos above), which is just next to the Novena Square Shopping Mall. I took a few photographs of the front view of the mall. Thankfully, SH and JY had both been understanding to my fascination with taking photographs.

Interior view of Velocity @ Novena Square

We had dinner at Organic Café Xperience that was located at Velocity @ Novena Square. JY and I each ordered a plate of wholemeal spaghetti. SH ordered the brown rice set with fish, and she was singing praises of it.

I quite like the layout of Velocity @ Novena Square and this place has quite a number of sports-related shop. However, I reckon I may not be a regular visitor to this new mall since I am not quite keen on sports item in general. But I shall consider this place if I should need sports-related items in the future.

Actually, before our dinner, SH had taken JY and me to yet another nearby mall and it is called Square 2. There's a short write up about Square 2 here:

In short, Square 2 just reminded me of the concept of "maximising every single possible space". Almost every square-area of space that can be used will be used.

I would like to assume that the developer has tried to maximise every single possible space so as to help keep rental costs low for the retailers. Square 2 is fairly nearby several office-buildings and should be able to attract a regular pull of consumers. I hope the rental costs are indeed much lower than those in town area, for if this were to be the case, I think it can be quite a fairly good location and an affordable place for entrepreneurs to set up businesses in.

However, being a lover of spacious spaces, I do not have an instinctive liking for Square 2. In addition, I find the narrow walkways create a feeling in me that Square 2 is like a space-constrained maze. Furthermore, there is no good enough music-related store or interesting book-shop there to win my regular patronage to this 5-storeys mall.

Interior view of Square 2

Singapore's first Korean themed shopping enclave
However, for my readers who love Korean food, fashion, beauty products & services and homeware, you should check out the third level of Square 2. Square 2 website states as such: "immerse yourself in all things Korean at Singapore's first Korean themed shopping enclave on Level 3..."

SH showed us to the Sol Mart located at units #03-06/07/08. This is a store that sells tidbits, cosmetics and instant food from Korean. I suppose folks who like things from Korea may wish to check this store out.

Despite the generally space-constrained feeling that I have had of Square 2, there are a few spacious spots to get a bit of a breather. Fairly nearby the food-shop, Mango Lingo (unit #02-08), there is a covered yet open-air area with generally peaceful views. Look for the narrow pathway leading to this well-ventilated haven.

Take a breather here.

By the way, SH shared that there is a food-outlet called QQ rice (unit #01-06) at Square 2 that makes and sells rice balls. At QQ rice, one can not only choose the kind of rice one would want, one can choose the fillings that would be placed in the rice ball. We spotted a queue at QQ rice when we were there at about 6 p.m. But at about 7.30 p.m, the queue was gone.

Purple Rice with my choice of fillings: Fish floss, sweet corn, black sesame etc.

I bought a purple rice ball. I particularly like the black sesame that I have asked to be placed in the fillings. The rice ball was alright. I understand that the purple rice has the properties of enhancing a preson's blood circulation after it is being eaten. I think it is quite a healthy and novel choice of food. However, I guess I am unlikely to have the craving to eat it again the next time when I am at Novena.

Special thanks to SH for showing me around the various malls. Otherwise, on my own, I might not even have bothered to know that such malls exist in Singapore.

Last but not the least, here's an early birthday greeting here for JY, who will be the first amongst the three of us to celebrate her birthday this year. Happy Birthday.

Week 16 of year 2007 on the double bass

15 Apr 2007, Sun: It is Sunday, and I spent some part of the day practising. I practised part of Pachelbel's Canon transcribed to G major, scored for a double bass quartet, arranged by David Heyes. Subsequently, I also practised part of Faure's Sicilienne and a bit of Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro.

I felt tempted to play Capuzzi's Concerto in D major, so I went with the flow and practised it too.

To be frank, I needed to work on Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro more than anything else, but I have no inclination to play it today.

17 Apr 2007, Tue: After a long day at work, I was pleased to find myself still having the motivations to practise on the double bass. I shall be thankful for the motivations.

About 25 minutes was spent just practising the first page of Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. I was working on getting the fingerings and the rhythms correct. It went quite good.

Afterwhich, about 5 to 10 minutes was spent playing Capuzzi's Concerto in D major for the sake of fun. I just felt like playing the first movement of it somehow.

More practising to catch up, and I shall continue to work on it.

18 Apr 2007, Wed: I felt tired in the night, although the work-day was shorter than that of 17 Apr 2007. Slightly more than 30 minutes was spent practising.

I practised just a particular 16 bars from Pachelbel's Canon transcribed to G major, scored for a double bass quartet, arranged by David Heyes. Afterwhich, time was spent practising the first, second and fourth movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major.

I miss orchestra rehearsal. Wednesdays feel different without it.

19 Apr 2007, Thu: It's double bass lesson day today!

I requested to start the lesson with the third movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major. Some time was spent to work on playing the vibrato. MJ also worked out with me on the phrasing for the third movement. He reminded me that for this work, if there should be any change in the dynamics, it should not be too sudden. Gradual change in dynamics is preferred.

I went on to work on the fourth and the second movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major. My homework for the week is to practise the second movement such that my fingers are generally kept close to the fingerboard (no "flying fingers") when I play the sixteenth-notes passages.

Afterwhich, I was to work on Keyper's Romance and Rondo. I was asked to practise it at a slower tempo and to make sure that I keep strictly to time. Clarity seems very important for this work.

I wish I could have more time to practise!

21 Apr, Sat: Before I left home in the late morning, I set aside time to practise D major scales and B minor (melodic and harmonic) scales on the double bass. I figure that it is necessary to devote some time to practise scales so I did that today.

Afterwhich, I spent a couple of minutes working out a few passages from Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. More work on this will be needed.

Another week of achieving my set targets. Then again, to be honest, I would like to have more time to practise. I have done my best nevertheless. It has been a challenge to find time to practise when one has a full-time non-music job and several other committments to juggle with.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Works by Wong Keen

On the wall: A copy of Wong Keen's work, Sunday at Noon Singapore, 2006.

WONG KEEN: A Singapore Abstract Expressionist
An exhibition of donated works by Mr & Mrs Koh Seow Chuan

9 March – 29 April 2007

Venue: Singapore Art Museum

I was at the Singapore Art Museum some time ago and I managed to have the time to view works by the artist, Wong Keen. I recommend that you could join one of the free guided tours to this exhibition so as to lend yourself more insights to Wong Keen's works.

Although I don't have a natural inclination to works of the abstract expressionism style, I've found it quite a worthwhile experience visiting this exhibition and learning about how the life and experiences of an artist could have an influence on his/her works.

Do check this exhibition out soon. It will end on 29 April 2007.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Music theory day

After double bass lesson today, I headed for HDB Hub for music theory class. I was already feeling tired from the week when I was on the taxi on my way rushing for the music theory class.

My music theory told me that from this month till later part of this year, I will be studying the related materials for Grade 7 music theory. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to the Neopolitian chord, notated either as ♭IIb or N6. I should now be able to recognise it if I were to see it on the scores and have the time to analyse the music. However, I wonder if my ears would ever recognise a Neopolitian chord from a piece of music that I were to listen to?

Sometimes I think it would be great to combine music theory, aural and practical lessons all in one. But to do that, I might still need to brush up on my foundation of music theory and aural skills.

Anyway, for today's music theory lesson, I felt so tired that I wasn't giving the lesson my full concentration. When I was assigned to identify the given chord found in Bar Two of a score, my mind drifted off and identified the first chord from Bar One!

Well, avoid me if you think you should. A tired yours truly is not an easy person to have around.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Life at this moment

The chest hurts
Too much strain?
Time seems running out
Even before a legacy could be left

So much.
Yet what truly matters?
What could guide me to the answer?

Sparklette's post on the HDB Gallery

In the background, public housing. In Singapore.

Sparklette has a post up on of her visit to the HDB Gallery. In her post, you can get a glimpse of the development of public housing in Singapore, from past to future.

Check out her post right here: Singapore Housing: Past, Present, Future

Also see:
HDB Gallery

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A site to read: Jalan Kayu Trail

Thanks to the Friends of, I managed to know of this blog known as The Jalan Kayu Trail Blog. These students and the folks from Pei Hwa Secondary's 3E3 deserve our praises and accolades. Cheers.

I best remember Jalan Kayu for the famous Roti Prata stall in that area. I have been there on a few occasions. But I realised after browsing The Jalan Kayu Trail Blog, that there is more to be discovered about Jalan Kayu. For example: the black and white bungalows there, the Seletar Airport, the kampong life, the rubber plantation in the past and more. So please check it out here:

Take your time, I too have lots to catch up on from The Jalan Kayu Trail Blog.

With thanks

I shall be thankful
For a reasonably good day
At least I had the energy
To practise
Even after a long day

I shall be thankful
For a reasonably productive day
Leaving me feeling quite accomplished
At the end of the day

I shall be thankful
For kind words from friends
Even a simple hello
Can brighten the day

Hope the following day would be good too.

Monday, April 16, 2007

For Mistipurple

Mistipurple has been one of my most dedicated blog-readers and blog-friends. I remember that she first started reading my blog at about the time when I had received my results for the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) Grade 7 Double Bass Practical Exams (view related post here). That was sometime in Oct 2004. So I suppose music has brought Mistipurple and myself together?

I remember that Mistipurple has fond memories of CHIJMES which used to be the school that she had studied in. Here's a short post with a photo of CHIJMES that I have taken quite recently. That's my simple way of saying thanks to Mistipurple for her support and friendship.

Life has its ups and downs, I wonder if blogging has helped given people the voice and the support such that they would have the added strength to stay afloat?

Keep safe, my friends.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

One-word-answer meme

I was tagged by Emily, so I did it last night and shall post it tonight.

Here it is:

1. Where is your cell phone?

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife?

3. Your hair?

4. Your mother?

5. Your father?

6. Your favorite thing?

7. Your dream last night?

8. Your favorite drink?

9. Your dream car?

10. The room you are in?

11. Your ex?

12. Your fear?

13. What do you want to be in 10 years?

14. Who did you hang out with last night?

15. What you're not?

16. Muffins?

17. One of your wish list items?

19. The last thing you did?

20. What are you wearing?

21. Your tv?

22. Your pet?

23. Your computer?

24. Your life?

25. Your mood?

27. What are you thinking about right now?

28. Your car?

29. Your work?

30. Summer?

31. Your relationship status?

32. Your favorite color?

33. When is the last time you laughed?

34. Last time you cried?

35. School?

SINGAPORE. A Geopolitical Utopia.

Vladimir Martynov's SINGAPORE. A Geopolitical Utopia
About a month ago, I have written about a concert featuring Vladimir Martynov's SINGAPORE. A Geopolitical Utopia.

While I was trying to search for information on this work, I chanced upon an article by Chang Tou Liang: Some thoughts about Vladimir Martynov's SINGAPORE. A Geopolitical Utopia. Do check the article out especially if you have had the privilege to listen to Vladimir Martynov's SINGAPORE. A Geopolitical Utopia.

Emily and Mystic: you could check the above article out.

For the convenience of my readers, I tried to find out where one could purchase a copy of the recording of Vladimir Martynov's SINGAPORE. A Geopolitical Utopia, but I have yet to find an answer. Let me know if you do.

However, I certainly know that when you visit the National Museum of Singapore and enter the Singapore History Gallery via the museum's Glass Rotunda, the first thing that you would hear is the first movement of Vladimir Martynov's SINGAPORE. A Geopolitical Utopia. Here's one good reason to visit the museum.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Week 15 of year 2007 on the double bass

This photo was taken a year ago at the Esplanade.

8 Apr 2007, Sun: In the morning, I spent close to 40 minutes practising sight-reading. I choose to play the first 16 pieces from Yorke Solos for double bass and piano, volume 1. To help me in building a good sense of tempo and rhythm, I switched on and used a metronome to aid me in my practice.

These 16 pieces weren't as difficult as the sight-reading pieces from Develop Sight-reading, Vol 1 & 2 for all Bass Clef Instruments by Gaston Dufresne, edited by Roger Voisin. As such, I felt more confident and interested to continue to do more sight-reading for my future practice sessions.

After lunch, I spent some time practising Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro, and I realised that there are some passages whereby I would need help from my tutor. Having a tutor to seek guidance from is great. I wish I have had the resources to do so years ago.

9 Apr 2007, Mon: After a long day, I started practising on the double bass from 10.10 p.m. So far, I have not have neighbours knocking on my doors to ask me not to practise. Thank goodness for that.

The session lasted 20 minutes, and I practised Faure's Sicilienne at a slower tempo, with vibrato. I still need more practice to get a satisfactory vibrato. I would have practised longer, if not for the fact that my tummy wasn't feeling well.

11 Apr 2007, Wed: There was no orchestra rehearsal, and I miss it.

Anyway, in the night, I play Capuzzi's Concerto in D major (for violone or double bass and piano). It has been more than three months since I had last attempted to play this concerto. I decided to use this concerto as a sight-reading piece, and it turned out that I was almost able to play the entire concerto from the first movement to the last. Yes! This is one nice concerto. I am starting to harbour thoughts of playing it for the exams.

I also practised the third movement and fourth movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major. The third movement needs more work. I would like it to sound with greater depth.

12 Apr 2007, Thu: I love double bass lessons with MJ more and more. Despite feeling pretty tired at the start of the double bass lesson, the sound of the double bass and the delight of hearing my playing improve has brought comfort to my tired body and mind.

For today's lesson, I played the entire Marcello's Sonata in G major for MJ. I felt glad that MJ agreed with me that I needed more work on the third movement, and he spent a fair bit of my lesson to get me to work on the third movement. I love his demonstration of a rendition of the third movement of the sonata. Start with full and fast bow, if I had understood him correctly. More practice would be needed on my own on this.

He also requested me to play the fourth movement of the sonata again for him. I was reminded to be steady in my rhythms, and not to rush. There is enough time for everything, and if I fear I don't have enough time, fear may rob me of good music.

What pleased me was that he agreed to my request to go through Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. I didn't have the time to go through the entire piece, but I was very pleased that at least he helped me with those difficult passages where I had needed help. Thanks MJ.

On my way to music theory class, and on my way home from music theory class, I could not help but have the resonating sounds of the double bass singing in my mind. Such is a pleasure.

14 Mar 2007, Sat: I spent at least 25 minutes practising Pachelbel's Canon transcribed to G major, scored for a double bass quartet, arranged by David Heyes. It was pretty challenging to play a couple of the leaps of an octave. I would still need more practices on this. Way to go!

Reviewing my practices on the double bass for this week of 15, I proudly announce that I have continue to reach my target of practising at least four days per week, at least 15 minutes on each of these four days. Having said so, there are still a lot of things I would need to practise on.

I wish to spend more time to practise so as to improve my vibrato. I wish to have more time to practise scales and studies. I would like more time to practise sight-reading. Time is such a precious commodity. In the future, if you don't see me posting on my blog as often, it could be because I am practising on the double bass.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The competing demands

Everyone has 24 hours a day only.

I may have had thoughts of asking for more time, but time is a commodity that is so fair to everyone on Planet Earth.

For the past weeks, I felt I was running out of time. There are quite a number of things I would like to do, and there has been a nagging feeling that my time may soon end one day. Life may end before I could do what I wish to do. I may have to start to learn to live every day as if it were my last. Maybe that feeling could have came about when a few of fingers started hurting for no clear reason.

Somehow, I felt I have to learn to buy time or at least catch up with it.

There are so many things I would have to do during this period of time:
1) Work, and serve people.
(It can be fulfilling.)

2) Practise, practise and practise on the double bass.
(I love the way it sounds.)

3) Study music theory and do music theory homework.
(While I admittedly don't love music theory as much as I love the double bass, I believe that a good foundation in music theory will help me play better and more musically on the double bass.)

4) Read.
(I have a couple of books I wish to read: Paul Brun's A New History of the Double Bass, a book on social Entrepreneurship. I would also like to finish reading Emily's gift to me i.e. Aaron Copland's What to Listen for in Music.)

5) Read, research, and write the programme notes for my DipABRSM exams.
(My DipABRSM exams is just about four to five months away!)

6) Write.
(I already have ideas and basic outlines for several heritage-related blog-posts and a few others. I would just need the time to write.)

7) Spend some time with treasured friends and family members.
(Those who know me well would know that I value my personal space very much. I need to have enough time alone. Then again, lost time with family members and treasured friends would be lost forever. I shall learn to strike a healthy balance.)

8) The basic necessities of living: Eat, drink, sleep and etc.
(I find myself sleeping less than I had used to six years ago.)

I am thankful to my dear mother, father and brothers for their understanding, and from sparing me from the mundane so that I have time to do many of the items listed above.

Having said the above, I am starting to feel that I need more simplicity in my life. More clarity in my priorities in life may be helpful. However, either I am not honest enough with myself or I still lack the maturity as a young lad, I am still unclear what would truly mean to me in life.

If there is a North-star that guides, I ask that it guide me to gain the wisdom to learn to lead a balanced life, despite all the competing demands.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A blank space

A blank space
I don't know where
Life's path would be heading to
And where it would take me along

A blank space
I am hoping to connect
With the rest of the world
Yet I feel out of touch

A blank space
Am I heading anywhere
Sometimes taking one step at a time
Is leading me nowhere

A blank space
I see what could lie ahead
Yet have no faith
What stride to take

A blank space
You see
It means
I am lost
For life's
Beyond my comprehension

Visual DNA

I came across this while I was reading one of Mistipurple's latest posts.

It looks nice, so I decided to get one for myself right below:

I figured that it is a kind of personality test where the results are presented using appealing visuals. Get your own VisualDNA™ here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Explore Singapore!: World War II trek

The boardroom. In this boardroom, the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese on 15 Feb 1942.

On, be treated to more of the bite-sized video clips from Explore Singapore! series. This time, be treated to WWII related museums such as: the Fort Siloso, Memories at Old Ford Factory, Changi Museum and Reflections at Bukit Chandu.

Being interested in WWII history in this part of the world, I cannot help but point all the travellers to this blog to the recent few posts on

Enjoy the entertaining drama of Sarah Thompson looking for her mother in Singapore with the help of former museum curator Mr Heng (view source) while checking out the various WWII-related museums in Singapore.


For your convenience, I have embedded the video clip on Sarah's and Mr Heng's visits to Memories at Old Ford Factory and Changi Museum right above. Check out the very site where the British had surrendered Singapore to the Japanese on 15 Feb 1942. Find out how people had lived during the Japanese Occupation. In addition, how prisoners-of-war communicated with their loved ones through quilts. I particularly like the story of the cross that was made from an artillery shell, so please watch this 8 minutes video to find out more. But of course, do visit Changi Museum, join the guided tour and listen to the more in-depth, touching story of this very cross.

Please also check out the following links for more video clips on Sarah's and Mr Heng's visits to other WWII-related museums:
I shall dedicate this post to the following people because I think they would like some of these WWII museums: Simple American, JY, Emily and all other readers who love WWII history!

Having German Brunch with Mystic

In one of my earlier posts, I have mentioned that I have had the Sunday German Brunch with one of my good friends, Mystic, at Paulaner Bräuhaus on the first day of April 2007.

I love the layout and settings of this lovely Paulaner Bräuhaus restaurant. If you are sharp enough to realise that I have a liking for places with tall ceilings, you can appreciate why I love the restaurant. Air feels so well-ventiliated and the space feels spacious at this restaurant.

Brunch is served in the buffet style. I had no interest to drink beer, so I opted for free-flow of iced-tea as my beverage for the Brunch. Mystic too.

I can say that the Pork Knuckle was "crackling" good. It has a delighfully crispy texture on the outside. This is one item that I recommend that you should try. I have had the chance to even tell one of the chefs that the Pork Knuckle was good. Mystic later told me that this chef whom I spoke to was the restaurant's Executive Chef Jody Yu.

On the top right corner is the crackling good Pork Knuckle.

Mystic and myself are both cheese-lovers so we took a small piece of almost all the kinds of cheese available in the buffet spread. The cheese selection is alright. For $30++, and taking into consideration of the rest of the spread, it was a good bargain. Of course, if you are only looking for buffets with a great variety of cheese, this may not be the place to check out. However, Paulaner Bräuhaus is one good place to check out if you want German food for brunch on a Sunday.

Right in the centre: several varieties of cheese and a piece of bread.
Bottom left: The asparagus soup. Yummy.

The asparagus soup is delightfully nice. Mystic was very kind to please me by helping me to get two helpings of this soup upon request. Thanks Mystic.

If you are new to German food, do try the Weiss Wurst with German dumpling. The German dumpling is moist and sticky on its inside, and the Weiss Wurst sausages complement the German dumplings very well. Try imagining how exciting it would be for the palate to chew on the moist and slightly sticky German dumplings at one moment; and at another moment, savour the soft, smooth texture of the Weiss Wurst sausages which release trickle of nice, meaty juice with every bite.

Top left: German dumpling, and Weiss Wurst.

The pretzel is one item that both Mystic and myself grew increasingly fond of with each bite we took of it. Initially, at our first bite, it felt fairly plain and boring. But as we took more bite of it, we became increasingly won over by its slightly salty dough-taste. The inside was soft. I like its smooth, glazed outer surface. The more I ate it, the more I like the distinctive favour of the pretzel

In the foreground: the pretzel.

There were much more varieties of food offered for the German Brunch, but I shall just point out those that Mystic and myself were particularly fond of.

In my earlier post, I have mentioned that Mystic likes the Weissbier Tiramisu and she stated that it is "the best dessert in Singapore" (of course, she qualified that this statement was based solely on her personal preferences). I found out that Weissbier Tiramisu is made with wheat beer and pumpernickel bread. I like its nice cinnamon flavour and fragrance. The smooth, rich cream of this dessert was pleasantly unforgettable.

Mystic and myself sampled the chocolate truffle cake and I think this is one heavenly tasting cake for dark-chocolate lovers. I love its dark, smooth, rich chocolate cream filling. It was not too sweet, and the chocolate layer tasted dark with character. In the Singapore's language, I can say that this cake is simply "shiok" (a Singaporean expression denoting extreme pleasure or the highest quality). I won't mind missing the chocolate fondue just to get more chocolate truffle cake, but of course, you must remember that I am a dark chocolate lover.

In conclusion, Paulaner Bräuhaus is a nice and fairly value-for-money restaurant for a lovely and cosy Sunday brunch. The food is pretty rich, so please be prepared that you may not even feel hungry to have dinner after having a bruch there.

Mystic's only comment on where the Sunday German Brunch needs improvement is that the restaurant could give its guests an option to choose between hot and cold free-flow drinks. Right now, there's an extra charge for free-flow hot drinks. Mystic is easy-to-pleased, and if there is simple coffee or tea to choose from, she will give an extra thumbs-up for Paulaner Bräuhaus.

Before we left the restaurant, Mystic saw that I was attracted with taking photographs of the beautiful paintings that were hung at various points of the restaurant. Perhaps she could not understand why I have a preference to take photos from a slanted angle, she requested for my camera to take photos from a straight angle. Of course, I obliged. I have nothing to lose to lend my good friend my camera for a while. Maybe one day, she would appreciate that my view that there is beauty in the unorthodox and in the imperfection. Beauty is simply not what one sees; It is what one feels.

Now, if there is a competition going on, which one of the two photos below would you prefer. Yours truly's or Mystic's?

Taken by yours truly. From a slanted angle.

Taken by Mystic.

Whatever the results may be, I would like to thank Mystic for her company over brunch. She may be one of those few ones who would be sincerely interested to listen to me ramble as such: "Sunday is the first day of the week, and breakfast is the first meal of the day. An enjoyable breakfast on Sunday helps one start the week in a good tone."

Paulaner Bräuhaus Singapore
9 Raffles Boulevard,
Time² @ Millenia Walk,
Singapore 039596
Tel: 6883 2572

Sunday, April 08, 2007

7 years with "my husband"

My double bass which I affectionately refer to as my husband was a 21st birthday gift for me from my mother. It was delivered to me on 8 April 2000 in the morning, one month before my 21st birthday. So today marks the seventh year with my husband.

My relationship with my husband is getting better. During the first year when I had him, because of the too high set-up of the bridge, playing the higher positions on it proved to be a challenge. In the end, I had to take it back to the shop to request for the bridge to be re-set.

When I first bought it, my husband was strung with Korean-made strings. There is nothing wrong with Korea. However, I can tell you that my double bass sounded not so warm and nice with Korean-made strings strung on him. Korean-made strings aren't conducive to the fingers too. My fingers had often had a pricky feeling after playing on those Korean-made strings.

Looking back, I am glad that I had invested on better strings to string on it, but that came comparatively late, only months before I sat for ABRSM Grade 6 Practical exams about three years ago. Now D'Addario Helicore strings (medium gauge, orchestral tuning) is being strung on my double bass, and it seems to give it a warm yet nicely bright sound.

Perhaps my double bass is now more seasoned with time, it does sound better. Last year, I took it to one of my favourite Luthiers in Singapore to reset the bridge. After that, it was a little more easier to play on my double bass. Of course, while it has its merits, it cannot compare itself to the sounds of my dream double bass.

Then again, for sentimental reasons, I doubt I would be able to bear giving it away even if I am able to have the money to invest on my dream double bass, or at least, a better double bass.

For now, I shall just play as much as I can on my husband until one day that my playing has outgrown it.

Meantime, 7 years with my husband, and I suppose this is worth a celebration?

Evening out with Mystic

On Good Friday this year, I met up with my friend, Mystic, in the evening. I hope by the time when she reads this post, her health has gotten better.

As I was having a craving for raw fish that evening, I proposed having dinner at the Sushi Teh outlet nearby our meeting place. I think Mystic had been very kind to oblige to my request.

Mystic and myself were particularly excited by the house speciality that you see right below. If I remember correctly, it is made of salmon, asparagus, seaweed and those greenish mini-balls with a wasabi taste. The asparagus found in the core of this sushi taste gave this dish a nice crunchy yet fresh texture. The wasabi on this sushi gave a mildly exciting sensation to my tastebuds, and I liked it.

After dinner, yours truly took the lead and led Mystic to the Victoria Theatre by foot. I decided that we should walk towards Victoria Theatre by walking along the path gets us close to the Padang, along the City Hall and the old Supreme Court. Along the way, Mystic looked quite delighted to see the twinkle-like lights from the cladding structures of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. As for myself, I cannot help but to marvel at the beauty of the neoclassical old Supreme Court.

As I quite like the Earshot Cafe at The Arts House, I made a request to Mystic to make a trip there. I wasn't there to eat nor drink, but I had wanted to check out what kind of Singapore-related publications Earshot Cafe at The Art House carries.

I quite like the fact that I can find many Singapore-related publications there. Even the Earshot Cafe at the Esplanade did not carry such a varied collection of publications. Earshot Cafe at The Art House is a place that I would recommend for those who love to be in the midst of Singapore's music and books while enjoying a cup of nice drink.

After a short stay at The Art House, we headed for the Victoria Theatre. We were early, and I ventured to one corner of the Victoria Theatre where I saw framed photographs of scenes of Singapore in the fairly distant past.

Photoshot of a photo of statue of Sir Stamford Raffles originally erected at the Padang before being moved to the Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall.

Just when we were wondering how we could proceed our way to the audience seats, the usherers pointed us to walk to the back of the building towards the direction of the stage door. Mystic and I followed the rest of the audience to our special seats located on the stage of Victoria Theatre. We were there to catch the performance titled 0501 (see: A unique theatrical experience). It was an interesting performance that made my mind think quite a fair bit. Memories. Interconnectedness. Threads that bind. The beauty of simplicity... All these stayed in my mind.

After the performance, Mystic and I headed towards the Esplanade Park and then towards Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. I was in the mood to take photos and I took some photos for Mystic. Here's one particular photo that I would like to dedicate to Mystic, and I believe she will like it. For you, Mystic:

Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay in the background. (Singapore)

I felt that the night was beautiful yet with a tinge of melancholy. Maybe the night needed some light? As such, I felt an inclination to take a photo of one of the lamps under the Esplanade Bridge. Then I realised, where there is light, there is shadow. Perhaps because shadows exist where there is light?

I was in a mood for the poetic, even if my approach may seem strange. Dear Mystic: sometimes I wonder if it is your blessing or your misfortune to have me as a friend. But I suppose you would be kind enough to tell me that it is the former. Wishing you peace and good health.