The OneBeat Podcast

Ng Chor Guan

Episode Summary

In this episode, we meet composer, theremin player and time traveler through sound, Ng Chor Guan. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Guan talks to us about the human imagination, infinite possibility, and the magic of traveling sonically through space and time.

Episode Notes

In this fourth episode of the OneBeat Podcast, we travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and speak to composer, theremin player, and self-proclaimed time traveler through sound, Ng Chor Guan. We first got to know Guan as an artist who loves to think about and work with technology, and is in fact optimistic about the potential of technology to bring humans closer together, not further apart. In this charming conversation with Guan, we learn that underlying Guan’s inquiry into technology is a deep curiosity and love for the infinite possibilities of the human imagination. Our conversation flows from his childhood experiences mimicking sounds from cartoons to his fascination with the theremin, to his outlook on non-linear time, space travel, and the importance of dreams. Guan is more than curious about humans and our interactions with the world -- he is optimistic about it, fascinated by it. He conveys a refreshing childlike wonder and joy when he speaks, which is reflected in his music, his art, and his interactions with people. In this episode we also hear from theremin player extraordinaire Rob Schwimmer about the history of the instrument, and from film producer Santhosh Daniel, who shares with us a touching memory about Guan and the theremin. 


Produced and Edited by Elena Moon Park + Charlotte Gartenberg

Production Assistant: Nyokabi Kariũki

Mixed by Zubin Hensler

Executive Producers: Jeremy Thal, Elena Moon Park, and Kyla-Rose Smith


Ng Chor Guan

Rob Schwimmer

Santhosh Daniel

A full playlist of music featured on this episode can be found here

OneBeat is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, & produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation.

Episode Transcription

Music Interlude: “Absolute Zero” from Space Age by Ng Chor Guan

Guan: “The beauty of the human is we have this ability to imagine, and from the imagination, we can make things even more beautiful.”

Elena Moon Park: What is it like to travel through space and time through sound? How can we expand our imaginations past the dimensions we were taught to see and hear?

Today we ponder these questions with Malaysian theremin player and composer, Ng Chor Guan. 

Welcome to the OneBeat Podcast

Music Interlude: “Yeah Yeah”, from OneBeat 2017 Mixtape

Kyla: Welcome back to The OneBeat Podcast, I’m Kyla-Rose Smith.

Elena: And I’m Elena Moon Park. This is a show about people, about musicians from all over the world, and how these musicians use their music to make the world a better place.

Kyla: In our last episode, we talked to Daniela Serna in Bogota, Colombia about the power of femininity and the drum. Today we’ll travel across many oceans to Malaysia, where we talk to an artist who defies borders of space and time. 

Music Interlude: Time Machine Waits for No Man by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: Today we’re going to speak with our friend Ng Chor Guan, a self-proclaimed time traveler through sound. You can hear some of his time traveling sounds now. In this episode we’ll also hear from theremin player Rob Schwimmer and film producer Santhosh Daniel to add some context for Guan’s work.

Guan was a fellow of our Onebeat global exchange program in 2015, and what I really love about this conversation is that it went to some places I was not at all expecting it to. At OneBeat we knew Guan as a then 34 year old theremin player and a composer. But we also knew him as an artist who was really into technology. He created all kinds of cool multimedia works about space & the future with this artist collective back in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

And this is undoubtedly my own bias, but for me, this prepared me for a certain kind of conversation about technology and music. I guess I thought we were going to talk about technological music-making, like this piece he created once for hundreds of mobile phones. And we do touch on those things. But what we really ended up getting at was a lot more intriguing: the human imagination, our dreams, non-linear time. And what I love about Guan is that he is someone who is driven entirely by his curiosity, and you can really sense that when he speaks. His curiosity is really pure, but it's also full of humility and above all it's full of wonder. Which I suppose makes sense for someone who loves to play the theremin. More on that later.

Elena: So here's Guan, a 2015 OneBeat fellow based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, telling me about his first memory of falling in love with music.

Guan: I remember that I sent to music school by my parents when I was three and a half years old to play all kinds of percussion instruments, basically just making noise. And one day when I was in kindergarten waiting for my father to pick me up, and I hear piano is playing. Like, what is that sound? And what kind of music is this? 

So I kind of fall in love with the sound of piano. And I told my mom that I would like to learn piano. But then learning piano without piano at home for, I think at least four to five years. And there was the time I practiced without actually playing on the physical piano. I draw a flat drawing keyboard and just imagine that always when I'm practicing.

Elena: Wait, so you drew an entire piano? And were you trying to play actual musical pieces on it? 

Guan: Yeah, not like 88 keys, but only a certain range of the key that I'm going to play on the score. But because in primary school we have wooden tables, and sometimes I draw on the tables and start to imagine that I'm playing the piano, by using the tip top of the nails to do the sound.

Elena: Wow.

Music Interlude: Intimacy (featuring E-Jan Tan) by Ng Chor Guan

Guan: But, music has been always around me. I’ve been very sensitive to sound, I would say it. I love to listen to all kinds of sounds from TV. I'm not really keen on the words and the text, but to the sound I’m very sensitive to it. 

Elena: And you told us in an interview in 2015 that you were influenced by the sounds of cartoons when you were younger. Can you tell me more about that? 

Guan: Yeah, I mean, because I have a big family, we used to spend communal space in the living room of my grandmom’s. So, when I was small, after coming back from school, I spent a lot of time in the living room, watching whatever TV program that the national TV broadcast. But of course my favorite is the cartoon. I like to mimic all these sound. Especially when I would like to turn it louder, but my grandmom's not allowed me to do that. Or sometimes when someone is speaking on the phone, they will ask me to mute it. So that's how I started to make the sound effects, without noticing, I already started making some tunes somehow. 

Elena: And do you remember the specific cartoons that you liked to mimic sounds from?

Guan: Yeah, I think the first one is Ultraman. And also Thundercats, if you know Thundercats. But also Transformers was quite a big one because every time when they transform from vehicle to a robot, everyone has a very unique sound, depending on what kind of vehicle are they. I mean, all this sound has been very interesting somehow that it has its own character. 

Elena: So, how did you get from those early days of drawing pianos and mimicking sounds from cartoons to discovering a love for the theremin and becoming a composer?

Guan: So back in university, was like long time ago, really, in a composition class, we got introduced the electronic family, and of course theremin will be introduced. And I always have this imagination of the instrument because I didn't get to see the real one. So the only thing that I could imagine is like, okay, so it's something that, I could float on top of this instrument without physical touch. And, until 15 years ago, when YouTube start to introduce and suddenly I saw the instrument like a theremin, and I really want to get this instrument. 

Music Interlude: Leon Theremin playing theremin (YouTube clip)

In fact, I attribute a full-length work to theremin, a work called Space Age. So it's like five pieces of instruments and then visual projection bringing people to this space -- which is also my childhood dream, that I would like to be an astronaut. I have never really been into outer space, but I could still make it come true with the instrument that I loved the most, as well as the creation of the music.

Music Interlude: Space Age, The Phantom Power by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: Wow, so you wrote this piece inspired by the theremin, but also, you wanted to be an astronaut when you were growing up? 

Guan: I mean, now I'm still, still I want to be. Actually, I always walk like in the moon. Because I cycle, I mean, I commute by bicycle. So when you have a higher gear on the bicycle, your legs is as if like walking on the moon.

Elena: So your love of cycling and your musical expression are both linked to your dream of becoming an astronaut,is that right?

Guan: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's why dream is very important. That’s why i’m always glad at least I have some dreams. 

Music Interlude (cont.): Space Age, The Phantom Power by Ng Chor Guan


Rob Schwimmer: Playing theremin is like having sex with ghosts.

Elena: That’s theremin player Rob Schwimmer. I reached out to him to learn a bit more about the theremin, this magical instrument that requires no physical touch, that aligned with Guan’s dream of floating like an astronaut on the moon. 

Rob: Hi, my name is Rob Schwimmer. For our purposes today. I'm a theremin player. I've been playing since about 1995, something like that. 

Elena: Rob has played theremin with everyone from Bobby McFerrin to Mark Morris to Paul Simon.

Rob: Well, let me start with what a theremin is. For the regular person, it is a box, with a rod sticking up vertically and a metal loop coming out of the left side of the box. There is an oscillator which produces a tone inside. And there are two electromagnetic fields around the box, so that when you move within the electromagnetic fields, it changes the pitch and the volume of the oscillator. So let's say your right hand gets closer to the rod. The pitch goes up. As your left-hand lifts away from the metal loop, it gets louder.

It was invented about a hundred years ago. I mean, it's around its hundredth anniversary right now, by a Russian guy named Leon Theremin. He was a physicist and electronics wiz, and also he was a cello player. He was doing an experiment, and he found out that the thing that he was messing with wound up with a tone that changed as he moved closer or further from it. You guys are probably too young, but if you had an AM radio, the position of your body to the AM radio with its antenna would change its reception. 

It became kind of a big thing in Russia around 1920. So, I mean, you know, when the early theremin player, you know, would play and people would see them, they'd faint because they would think they were communing with the spirits. It must've been hair-raising back then when, like, nobody knew any explanation for it, to just see it for the first time was probably pretty scary. 

Music Interlude: Leon Theremin playing theremin (YouTube clip)

Russia at the time was working on popularizing electrification for the country. So Lenin, Lenin actually was taken with his use of electricity as an instrument and to inspire people to modernize Russia. So he actually held Lenin’s hands and helped him play the theremin way back when. He made Lenins into Leninade.

Music Interlude: Clara Rockmore playing theremin (YouTube clip)

Elena: Lenin isn’t the only significant historical figure Rob told us about. in the shaping of the theremin. There was also the most famous early theremin player, Clara Rockmore, who played a central role in shaping the instrument, and worked closely with Leon Theremin as he was developing it.

Clara Rockmore: Well, I met Professor Theremin when he came to America to demonstrate the instrument, and I was fascinated by the aesthetic part of the instrument -- the visual, the beauty, and the idea of playing completely without touching anything, that part was very fascinating to me. I also loved the sound of it. And apparently I showed some kind of immediate, uh, ability to manipulate it, perhaps better than the usual person, maybe my absolute pitch helped.

Rob: There's the undeniable visual of somebody moving their hands in the air. You know, there's just the fascination with the sci-fi aspect of it. What you're seeing is like, kind of incredible. You can come up with all the explanations, why it works, the electromagnetic fields, but when you look at it and you're not thinking about it, you're just like, Oh, look at that. Wow. That's really weird. It's a musical magic trick.

Music interlude (cont.): Clara Rockmore playing theremin

Elena: Ok, thank you to Rob Schwimmer and Clara Rockmore. Now let’s go back to Guan.

Guan: Theremin actually gave me a lot of inspiration, because it's an instrument that first, that’s contactless, and second, you can do whatever you like. This instrument, because there's no physical touch, I could actually wave my hand or even I can draw, graphically, in the air in order to make the lines, the dots, the images into sound. 

So I've been using this instrument to integrate with dance, because I feel like this instrument has so much freedom where your body could move like a dancer. Sometimes, in some of the performance, I've been hanging the theremin upside down, where the dancer could also interact underneath, so they could make into a different gesture or posture or movements to interfere with the instrument, translating from the movements into the sound. 

Music Interlude: Respond to Pago Pago by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: So you mention collaborations with dancers here, and that brings me to what I know is your very multidisciplinary approach to creating works, including how you approach storytelling. One example that comes to mind is your work “the Finding Series,” a series of compositions inspired by travel and cycling. Can you tell us more about your approach to sound and storytelling?  

Guan: Yeah, perhaps I have a different way of telling story or storytelling. Always we don't see ourself as a story, but we always see other people as a story maker. But every one of us has our own story, has our own experiences. That's why three years ago, I started a project called A Finding Series, to find the story about, everything. I think I'm so greedy sometimes. I think finding is like, when you go to a place and you meet new people, a new cultural impact, a new time zone, all this actually makes you fill up the story of yourself.

So in this Finding Series, I'm using my bicycle to commute and travel around the local area. And start wondering, start to come up with questions, start appreciating these things that I'm seeing. But actually, always, I find that I'm not trying to find anything, but I'm trying to find myself.

So the story is not just based on people and the environment, but it's also very interesting to have this spirit of finding something beyond that. Everything that appear in the particular time, especially the time of creation, it meant something, it seems like the story is there, it’s just how you puzzle it and how you narrate to the audience.

Elena: Let's listen to a clip of a piece from the Finding Series called Finding Takao, featuring sounds from Wu Zai Yin, the baby of Wu Siou Ming, who was a OneBeat fellow the year after Guan. It was commissioned by the National Gaoshing Center for the Arts in Taiwan.

Music Interlude: Finding Takao by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: Another thing I love about your work, which to me is related to your approach to storytelling, is how you invite audiences to be music-makers in several of your pieces. One example is the mobile phone orchestra, a series of interactive works in which audiences can download, select and play sounds from their phones as part of the performance itself. Can you tell me more about why you like to involve audiences in your pieces?

Guan: Yeah, I’m the kind of person, when I listen to a concert or to a theater, when the show are so smooth, I start to fall asleep. Uh, I don't know why, because it's so peaceful maybe? But that's why I have this idea that during the performance, the audience, instead of putting their phones in their bags or pockets, why not they take it out and join, and be part of the performance. So it becomes like a conversation. I mean, of course, maybe the philosophy that I grew up with, the yin yang, the taoism, it makes me think of how to balance between technology and creativity. 

Elena: And how have audiences reacted to that invitation to participate? Has it been challenging?

Guan: Yeah, actually to bring the audience to be part of the performance is very challenging.

The first thing for sure is about the privacy, because when you need them to open up even like just Bluetooth, people are quite reluctant to switch on the Bluetooth and connect with a stranger. People feels like really insecure.

For me, it become that I could observe how people are treating the technology nowadays. I mean, Toccata Studio, where I'm artistic director of the organization, we work with non-performers, it’s even more interesting because we involve people from different age group, from 7 to 60 years old. And not everyone has the experience to be on stage. But once, when the show starts, when you see them on the stage, even for themselves, it was just so beautiful. I think this is the very nature of human beings to be on the stage and to express themselves during the performance. 

Music Interlude: “Absolute Zero” from Space Age by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: So, I've always seen projects like the mobile phone orchestra or other work that brings non-artists into art spaces as an attempt to democratize art-making a bit, to invite people into that process. But I'm hearing you say first and foremost that you just wanted to engage people who might not be engaged, and that it's almost an experiment for you. An experiment of exchanging ideas, of not knowing what will happen, of reaching outside of the artist's mind to create new works. Would you say that I'm describing that more accurately?

Guan: Yeah, true, that perhaps I have this spirit of, I would like to connect things. I would like to see something will happen, but I don't know what is gonna happen. I like to feel these, um, improbable connections. I think perhaps this is all my curiosity about living in the earth, and living as a human. Perhaps that's what I would like to leave it when I'm no longer belong to this earth, you know. I would like to find possibilities, and the connection between human and human, and also the human and nature, or even human and the animals.

Music Interlude: Moving Sky by Ng Chor Guan

Santhosh Daniel: I know Guan from 2015 when OneBeat came to Seattle. 

Elena: This is Santhosh Daniel, a film producer who is also a friend and collaborator of the OneBeat program.

Santhosh: What I can't forget is the final performance. And that's because Guan performed one of his new pieces that night. And I remember it because it had this hypnotic, immobilizing effect on the audience, and Guan probably noticed that. So when there was a break in the performance, he invited everyone to come up and play with him. And when I say play, I mean that quite literally. And the theremin of course, brings out this natural curiosity in people. It's not like a violin or a horn where the physical strings or keys suggests that there's some kind of rules or a sense of order by which it needs to be played.

So all these people, when he asked them to come up and play, everyone moved like they were suddenly released from whatever rules they walked in with. One of those people was my mother and she just kind of fell into the magic of it. And I think for everyone watching, you know, they see this dignified, elegant woman in a sari waving her hands, making sound. And for as beautiful as that is in my memory and mind's eye, what I remember that night mostly for is because my father was watching my mother play with Guan. 

And I don't know how to describe my father except to say he's a very serious and strong and intense person. But as kids to us, he was also kind of like a court jester and adventurer. Our dad, yes, but always laughing about something. But, you know, as he got older, that sense of playfulness he once had when we were younger, kind of began to hide. It didn’t disappear, it just kind of became hidden. And really that was because his health was changing, his heart. And so we didn't see him as we once did. 

But when he saw Guan and my mother playing with the theremin, there was a moment. You know, he already had this affinity or attraction to Guan because he, my dad, grew up in Malaysia. So there was a cultural familiarity. And that kind of led itself to suddenly this old sense of adventure kicking in in my dad. And I could kind of see this in him, because he just suddenly stepped up to the theremin when Guan was standing there. And I think Guan got it, and Guan held his -- Guan held his hand for a moment to guide it or get him started. And then my dad just kind of went with it. 

And I don't really remember what sounds he made, because all that I can remember is that he was laughing. At what, I don't know. I remember Guan was laughing also. And then I started laughing because it all felt so unusual. Like I was watching my dad kind of traveling back in time to what he once was, or who he once was. And It was beautiful. 

And I haven't ever really forgotten that feeling and that night. Because a few months after that, my dad passed away. And, you know, there were all these memories and elegies and eulogies from people who remembered him. And as I listened to them, I just remember being so grateful for the fact that I got to see him as I remembered him. That playful person.

Music Interlude (cont.): Moving Sky by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: That was Santhosh Daniel, recounting a magical moment he experienced with his parents, the theremin, and our guest today, Ng Chor Guan, during a performance in Seattle. The memory gives us a glimpse of what Guan’s invitation to participate can do for people. But also, for Santhosh, Guan and his instrument brought something back from the past, defying time itself. And in fact, so much of Guan’s work is about time, time traveling, and the future. One of his works, called Futurist Diaries, is part of a series of works called Project 2020, which premiered back in 2015 when 2020 was just a hopeful glimmer of the future. I asked Guan to tell me why so much of his work is about time and the future.  

Guan: Actually not just about the future, but it's also always related to the past because when time is not linear, it's like a worm hole that you could travel. 

Of course time related so much to death to me. Because of people that are close to you slowly, like for instance, my late mother, my late grandmother, I mean slowly they left earth, and then I feel like, um, something's missing. But then what if we could control the time, or I could have a time machine, you could sit on the time machine and look back to all the things that you've been doing. Like when you are sitting in the aircraft, looking out of the window, you see a beautiful landscape, and then sometime it recalls some of your memory. But then when you are in the time machine, perhaps you see something more personal than landscape like. 

Music Interlude: Intimacy by Ng Chor Guan

Time can be very interesting. If we don't think it as a linear line, then you could be very creative. I think this is also maybe after I started to play the theremin physically, that makes me feel like everything is possible to look at it. Not only one direction. So there's so many multidimensional that you could look at things, and also like from different angles, when you look into a story.

Music Interlude: Respond to Pago Pago by Ng Chor Guan

And also, time is always surrounding us, isn't it? Our heartbeat is pumping all the time. The bloody clock, even you are sleeping, you can hear it. So our life is just about dealing with time. And as a musician, when you're playing with time, it’s so cool, isn't it? I mean, we can play on time, we can play off time, we can play things without sound, to go against it. 

Music Interlude: “Absolute Zero” from Space Age by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: This talk of a time machine brings me to the question again of technology. You've expressed how technology is a tool for you, a tool to explore possibilities of interaction with other human beings, with the world, even possibly with time itself. Are you fundamentally optimistic about the role of technology in our lives? 

Guan: Yeah, definitely. I'm very optimistic with technology. I mean, without the technology, we couldn't have so much innovation right now. But I think somehow it's about balancing. How we balance the usage of the technology as well as what's the reason why you need the technology somehow. I find that most of the time, we don't even really need technology to be part of the art work. But if you are using technology in the right way, it could enhance, and it could bring your works into different stages, i would say.

Elena: And as we all know, we have been incorporating technology and have all become more virtual in our everyday lives in a way we’ve never seen before. Does anything worry you about technology, and what do you think is missing from our current overwhelmingly virtual experience?

Guan: Of course, the biggest thing is that we can’t touch each other, as well as the smell of it. Yeah. The smell, and the temperature, actually. Actually, we have been feeling the temperature so much in our capability, but we have been taking things for granted. We don't feel it so much because we depend on our visual, on our eyesight so much, and we forget about the rest of the sensation. So, I starting to worried about how, if everyone spend most of the time in front of their computer, it could be really bad. We could slowly turn into the shape of how aliens looks like. 

Elena: What do you mean by that?

Guan: You know, like, with bigger eyes, with really small mouth and only like three fingers because you don't need the rest of the fourth and fifth fingers anymore. Because, I mean, by looking at the technology nowadays, the mobile phone is one of the most innovative stuff -- you don't really need to use these two fingers, isn't it?

Music Interlude: TIGA trio improvisation by Ng Chor Guan, Jay Afrisando, Daniel de Mendoza

Elena: To switch gears a bit, you participated in OneBeat in 2015. What first got you excited about taking part in a global music exchange?

Guan: Sometimes I think, like, OneBeat in 2015 is a dream to me. Since young, I've been learning this phrase, like music is universal. Indeed, we learn a lot of tunes, we get to know different languages, we get to know different part of the world. But to have all the musicians to live in one place is just like a dream, I would say it. It’s like, it never come true. I mean, how, how can you make this come true? Even though you travel from continent to continent, you only can meet a certain continents’ people. But in OneBeat, you are like, seeing everyone. You are sharing the most beautiful things. I enjoyed the most when everyone is eating together. There's so much to share because, also, that's a different sensation that we have trained our tongue and our throat like to eat. So when you start to eat, it starts to trigger a different part of your brain, and then you start to share different things. And then later on, when we go back to music-making, something will pop up.

Music Interlude (cont.): TIGA trio improvisation by Ng Chor Guan, Jay Afrisando, Daniel de Mendoza

Elena: And you stayed in touch with the Tiga Trio, a group you formed with two other OneBeat artists from Colombia & Indonesia, and you continued to do live online improvisations with them in virtual spaces. Can you tell me about the formation of that group, and what that experience of virtual free improvisation has been like for you?

Guan: Yeah, I mean, in 2015, three of us -- Daniel de Mendoza, Jay Afrisando and myself -- somehow, spiritually, we are blending to each other. We always feel like after a long day of making music, our spirit need to belong to the ground. And we find it actually is not only three of us has this spirit. Actually everyone has this spirit. So we were really upset when we got far apart, we thought we were not gonna meet each other. But thankfully, thanks for the internet -- again, the technology, huh -- it makes us become a virtual trio. But this is something interesting, we are not starting with the virtual. We are starting from a very, very grounded, and then we turn into virtual. I believe one day three of us will be in one room physically. Not virtually. 

Music Interlude (cont.): TIGA trio improvisation by Ng Chor Guan, Jay Afrisando, Daniel de Mendoza

Elena: So, as we begin to wrap up, I’d like to ask: what do you see as your ultimate goal when creating music or musical experiences? 

Guan: I mean, I like to create works that not just question myself, but also to question people, and then to start a conversation from these artworks. Digging out things that people never really look into it. I really afraid that people will lost the imagination one day because everything are so straightforward. I remember like when I was young, when teachers say something that I don't really know, for instance, like a certain words or certain phrase you don't understand, but you try to imagine what it is. But now most people would just take their phone out of their pocket, and they start to look for it. So we are so much in the information era, where you can just simply look into anything, but we have been forgetting about our imagination. 

The beauty of the human is we have this ability to imagine, and from the imagination, we could make things even more beautiful, no matter if it’s right or wrong, but at least you enjoy the moment of imagination, as well as you have space and time to talk to yourself, talk to your own brain, instead of using your three fingers to control the devices, you know? 

Music Interlude: Summer Snow by Ng Chor Guan

Elena: So Guan, my final question for you -- what's inspiring you these days? What are you looking forward to?

Guan: I don't know. I just feel like I need a big party. To have everyone, all my friends that I know in my life, or maybe also the people that I'm going to meet in the future, like to get along, just to have a big party. The communal spaces, I miss it so much. I miss that we're making a circle, and there's a fire in the middle. Everyone is just sharing the moment, sharing the same heat, sharing the same dream and the story. 

Maybe, I was thinking that maybe we could make something to negotiate with the coronavirus. We can make the virus dance, and then we have time that we could hang out, and then they can have their time to hang out with their own gang, you know. I mean, this is just silly, but I think that's, that's what I miss the most. And I hope this will happen. 

Elena: Thank you so, so much Guan. It’s been a pleasure. We could talk for hours, and I hope we continue this conversation one day.

Guan: Thanks Elena. It was great.

Music Outro: TIGA trio improvisation by Ng Chor Guan, Jay Afrisando, Daniel de Mendoza

Elena: Thanks so much for listening. This episode was produced + edited by me, Elena Moon Park, and Charlotte Gartenberg, with essential help from Nyokabi Kariuki, Jeremy Thal, and Kyla Rose Smith. It was mixed by Zubin Hensler.  Thank you also to Rob Schwimmer and Santhosh Daniel for their contributions. All the music you have heard was composed and produced by Ng Chor Guan, plus a live improvisation from the Tiga Trio. The episode also featured clips of Clara Rockmore playing the theremin, Leon Theremin playing the theremin, and a clip from the Ultraman, Thundercats & Transformers cartoon series. Visit our website for a full playlist at

Stay tuned for our next episode, where we’ll visit Accra, Ghana and talk to spoken word artist Poetra Asantewa. You can listen to us anywhere you get your podcasts - and rate, review, subscribe and share. Follow us at 1Beatmusic. That’s the number 1….b-e-a-t  music.

The views and opinions expressed by our guests on this podcast are their own, and not necessarily those of the ECA, Bang on a Can, Found Sound Nation, or any of its employees. OneBeat is an initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with Bang On A Can’s Found Sound Nation