Scene And Heard


FIRECRACKERS have been banned in Singapore since August 1972. 

This 2021 sound card above sounds like firecrackers and it could be your Metal Ox felicitation this festive season during the silent CNY lo hei toss ups.

#soundcards by Cheryl Ong, 35, who is a drummer for The Observatory, is a commission by NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore). It is an attempt to build an exchange of sonic memories and audio timestamps like a postcard but by utilising sound instead of visuals as a key medium.

Cheryl Ong, Magdalena Magiera
Sound advice from Cheryl Ong (left) and Magdalena Magiera.

Cheryl’s #soundcards are uploaded onto IG: @ntu_ccasingapore every Tuesday and Friday weekly till 26 March 2021. Joining Cheryl and myself on today’s conversation on the sensibility of sound is Magdalena Magiera (Magda), Curator Outreach & Education for the NTU CCA Singapore.

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Sound appreciation is a decorum that deserves status in society.

Cheryl: “It all started because we were unable to travel during COVID-19. My overseas friends and I stayed in touch by sending each other sound cards such as the sound of a train station in Berlin. When I listened to it, it brought me back to the open interpretation of a place in my head.

“I go about recording usually unplanned, with a zoom recorder or my phone and edit it after.

“#soundcards is as good as a visually blank input on crazy social media and I hope to make people practise listening more. The audience can reply to my #soundcards by posting their own soundcards on IG and tag @ntu_ccasingapore and @cheryleatschips.”


Magda: “Sound can make you feel anxious, happy, excited or melancholic bringing you to certain memories. The sound of the chopping of fish at a wet market that you send to a friend can evoke a certain connection. Or if you have never been to a market, it can be the most unfamiliar sound. 

“Especially in a pandemic during lockdown, sound can also restore one’s state of sanity.”

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How does noise fit into sound?

Cheryl: “By definition, sound is what we hear and noise is classified as unwanted sound. But for me, it really depends on context. What most hear from a construction site would be noise but if you break it apart, elements of what we hear could be rhythmic or have a tonal quality that could be interesting. There’s also a genre called noise music, which encompasses the expressive use of noise in a musical context.”

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day so let’s delve into the ‘love sound’.

Magda: “My ex-boyfriend had to go to the hospital one day so I sent him the sound of a particular bird chirping on a tree from outside our bedroom. It is a familiar and intimate moment for the both of us waking up next to each other in the mornings, which was a source of comfort.”

Intimacy doesn’t necessarily need to be the soundtrack from Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood For Love.

#soundcards is part of the Free Jazz III. Sound. Walks. Exhibition & Singapore Art Week on show till 28 March 2021.

If you have a topic that is of interest, or have someone who would make a good panellist with a thought-provoking perspective on a subject, please email with your details and a short summary.

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