OneBeat 2015 Portrait – Ng Chor Guan

Ng Chor Guan is a composer and sound designer for theatre, dance, film and new media based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“I started to make music very unconsciously, because when I was 5 or 6 years old, every time when I would watch cartoons on TV — and because we have a big family — it’s a lot of noise happening, and sometimes my uncle or someone, my grandma would say, ‘oh it’s too noisy, from the cartoon, can we turn off the sound?’  So we’d turn off the sound, and I’d start to manipulate the sound from the cartoon when I was small. So I think from there, I actually started to make up music.

People always talk about technology being so cold, it makes people so separate, so isolated. But I think that’s why I wanted to create the mobile phone orchestra. I wanted people to get in touch with each other before the performance, start to talk to each other, and start to make friends. Or even just temporary friends is fine. So I liked that kind of connection. It’s like the music, i mean… sometimes they’re just together a short time together, and then they are going to be spread away, so I like the moments of every possibility.

I think a musical hero to me is John Cage — because at first I didn’t really like John Cage, cause at first i thought, ‘what is this, it  doesn’t really relate too much.’ But since i started to commute by bicycle, I started to realize that sounds are so amazing. There’s a lot of sound that we create subconsciously, within the people or community, but we don’t really realize how beautiful or how ugly they are.

Every day when we open up the newspaper, the headlines are always negative. To me, as a human being, how can i make people think positively and how do i use technology and music to make people think in a better way?”