our instruments by shueh-li ong

a midistrummer
listens to chords played on your MIDI keyboard and plays them back to your MIDI synthesizer just as they would be played from a guitar.
By looking at such factors as the range of the guitar, the number of notes being played, chord position, and the velocity of the performance, the “Strummer” can transform the incoming MIDI data out into performance data emulating that of a real guitarist. Performance data may be delayed, echoed, harmonized, transposed and sent back out on multiple MIDI channels.



is a MIDI controller which generates and sends 2-D positional coordinates to a Midi synthesizer or to a computer for further processing. Designed by Jim Sosnin, a midi hardware inventor and long time friend in Melbourne, this wand is shaped exactly like a baton which you can wave around this 2-D matrix (X and Y) in its basic mode, to send out pitch and volume Midi instructions.
Featured in tandem with CSOUND in a play by The Necessary Stage in Singapore, 2001 (original music and live performance by Shueh-li).

the vocoder
was intended by Homer Dudley (1939), a research physicist at Bell Laboratories, NJ USA, as a research machine for compression schemes to transmit voice over copper phone lines.
W Meyer-Eppler, then the director of Phonetics at Bonn University, recognised the relevance of the machines to electronic music after Dudley visited the University in 1948, and used the vocoder as a basis for his future writings which in turn became the inspiration for the German “Electronische Musik” movement (from website “Obsolete, 120yrs of electronic music”).
The earliest use of the vocoder was by Wendy Carlos for synthesized singing in her score for Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange (1971). It is featured in our Electronic Operas.

pvc system
is made from PVC tubing, cut, spray painted and attached by screws, is connected to the sound generator portion of the synthesizer. This system is appropriate for wide gestured movements e.g. playing percussive sounds.

PVC didj

PVC didj

pvc didjeridoo
carved to play in the key of the piece of music. The technique of playing is circular breathing, vital in maintaining the drone and while allowing the player to take in fresh air.

wx7 wind-controller

taps into the sound generator portion of a synthesizer and emulates the performance nuances of a clarinet/saxophone, and like all MIDI instruments can be configured to do other performance functionalities.

the guqin
is one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments, most profoundly utilized throughout the Confucian era (600BC-1900 AD). This black silk-stringed zither, in accordance with the Confucian Way, was used as a vehicle for worship, formation of character, and regulation of political life of the state.
The Confucian Superior Man/scholar was expected to be skilled in four arts: Qin (the guqin), Qi (the game of Go), Shu (calligraphy) and Hua (painting).

In its present day form, nylon strings are used. Each instrument is a work of art. Craftsmen still study under the supervision of the master teacher. Performance techniques are passed on by word of mouth though there is hand written technical exercises prepared by a master Gu Qin player who is attempting to formalise such techniques.(**Music and dance are constant features in the writings of Confucianism as they perfectly embody the humaneness and wisdom of their composers.)
Not to be mistaken for the Gu Zheng (lap harp), which has a resonator, an arched surface and is an elongated-trapezoidal with 16-25 strings stretched over individual bridges. The GuQin has 7 strings and no bridge. Symbolic in Chinese high culture, the upper surface is rounded representing the sky; the bottom is flat and represents the earth. The 13 mother-of-pearl inlays along the outer edge represent the months of the lunar year.
The 5 strings of the GuQin symbolised the five elements of I-Ching: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth.
The 6th string was added by the first ruler of the Zhou Dynasty, Emperor King Wen (about the 11thC BC) to mourn the death of his son Bo Yikao. The sound of this string is sorrowful. The 7th string was added by the second Zhou ruler, King Wu to inspire his soldiers in war. Sadly only a few thousand people can play it, and it is rarely seen in China today.
(quoted from the Clarion Music Centre, Chinese Instrument library and Richard Hooker on Neo-Confucianism).