A Life Measured in Song: Jennifer Tham (E-book) (2021)

Research Lead: Mr Albert Yeo

Principal Investigator: Ms Michelle Yeo

Co-Investigator: Dr Eleanor A L Tan


The Art of Jennifer Tham (Documentary) (2021)

Producers: Ms Michelle Yeo, Dr Eleanor A L Tan, Mr Gavin Lim, Ms Emily Moh

Film Director: Mr Gavin Lim


In two parts comprising an e-book and a documentary, this research documents Jennifer Tham’s (2012 Cultural Medallion recipient) artistic practice and commitment to musical communities in Singapore, regionally and internationally. It explores how Tham’s values, beliefs, and aspirations inform her personae as conductor, composer and educator, particularly in her advocacy for ‘Living Music’ to motivate and rejuvenate the creativity of composers, and to stimulate public interest in choral music.


The film documentary documents Tham’s musical and educative journey back to school as she pursues her Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Filiming was completed before the COVID-19 situation became dire globally.



Ordinary Music Listeners / Music Students, Piano Teachers, Rock Band Members (2018)

Principal Investigator: Dr Gavin Lee

Co-Investigator: Mr Shawn Loh


Singapore’s internationally and ethnically varied population represents a diverse range of music tastes and attitudes towards music. Musical attitudes—i.e. musical preferences and values—have shifted as Singapore rapidly changes. This is true from traditional to popular and experimental music. This qualitative study outlines the perceptions held by different demographic groups of Singapore music vis-à-vis popular genres, understanding musical tastes and the identity and value of Singapore music in a global context.


Of interest in this study was the youth demographic, given that Singapore youth regularly take top spots at annual International Math and Science Olympiads, have literacy rates among the highest in the world and are required to pursue at least one non-academic activity after formal curriculum time towards holistic development. Separate interviews were conducted with students aged 13-16 with extensive experience with music instruction both in school—covering different music programs in and outside of formal curriculum time, and including the specialized School of the Arts—and by private tutors, to understand their specific experiences in music education.


The Social and Cultural Capital of Singapore's DIY Electronic Music Scenes (2018)

Principal Investigator: Ms Kar-Men Cheng


This qualitative study of the non-mainstream electronic music scenes in Singapore analyses the cultural and social capital generated from their unique set of values and network structure. These different scenes, tethered to different musical genres and subcultures, are united by an ideological orientation to authenticity and autonomy, generating social cohesion, and maximising diverse forms of capital. This study showcases how independent music artistes, producers, organisers, and fans from different facets of society produce social, cultural and financial capital for diverse stakeholders and proposes spaces for experimentation, and social structures that support more diverse definitions of merit.


Multicultural Influences in Three Singaporean Contemporary Chamber Compositions (2014)

Principal Investigator: Dr Cheryl Lim Xuanzi


Singapore, a young and modern nation, is universally recognized as a multi-racial, multi-religious and cosmopolitan society that embraces both diversity and cohesion. This active promotion as well as the unique Singaporean way of life invariably boosts and results in the inter-influences and juxtaposition of certain distinct ethnic cultures in Singapore’s musical landscape.


The cultural influences and aesthetics of three contemporary chamber compositions by Singaporean composers are explored in this study – Four Taiwanese Aboriginal Songs by Dr Zechariah Goh Toh Chai, Xin Tian You by Phoon Yew Tian and Last Dragonfly Dance by Ho Chee Kong. These works are built upon western traditional models of form, texture and instrumentation yet are imbued with ethnic cultural traits and features found either in Singapore or in its neighbouring countries like Taiwan and China. Besides examining some of these cultural influences in the compositions mentioned, this paper provides a background of musical cultures that predominates the musical landscape of Singapore as well as sheds some light on the brief but rapid development of western local compositions in the country, providing a glimpse of how influences of western and ethnic cultural aesthetics in Singaporean contemporary compositions came about.