Finding Love (version 1)

Ivan Chew - ProfileTook about 6 hours to compose and record this, in one sitting. Another inspired moment, I suppose.

I’ve titled it “Finding Love“:

You could say it’s a “happy” song. I wanted to convey a sense of hope and angst of “Finding Love” and that in the end, you do find it. It’s suppose to sound hopeful at least. If it sounds depressive, then an extensive revision is needed!

The song came about as I was fiddling with two chords from Joe Satriani’s “Love Thing”.


If you think it sounds like “Joe Satriani”, you’re right (which means I’ve succeeded!)

I tend to follow his style of riffs and melodies. If you listen closely, there are also parts where I played a little like Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses” and also Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain“. Not that I deliberately tried to borrow their licks or set the guitar effects to sound like them. It just came subconsciously. I didn’t aim to be original. Just wanted to have a nice sounding song (at least for my personal enjoyment).

After recording a short rhythm track (30-seconds worth), I made a short test recording for the lead. Somehow I was able to “get into the groove” and gradually the test recordings became a full-fledged song.

But it wasn’t that smooth-going throughout.

Initially I had difficulties in getting the precise notes I wanted for the lead. I’ve not played the guitar for more than 2 months (was busy completing the final touches to SeaStars 2007). My finger tips hurt from lack of practice and the strings were not as supple as they were when new.

Finally, I decided I couldn’t complain (that much) with whatever I’d recorded. The other improvements would have to come from the subsequent sound engineering later on. Will have to add the drums and bass (Adrian says he’ll help with the bass). There might be a part where some strings can come in. But overall, I don’t want to make the arrangements too complicated.

Still work-in-progress.

You’re welcome to create your own lead. It’s originally recorded at 78 BPS. I’ve provided a recording of the rhythm track only (feel free to add your own lead, bass, and drums etc):

MP3 files can be downloaded from ARCHIVE.ORG

~ Ivan

Human Genome Project

Adrian Loo - ProfileSorry to post here, but since I am a biologist and teacher… I feel the urge (muahaha) to educate whoever comes by my way… Anyway, this may …. will affect our lives in one way or another.

I am relooking at some notes and slides I prepared for this topic. Its an interesting topic not only because of the science behind it but also the ethical, social and legal implications (that makes the acronym “ELSI”) which blur the lines between right and wrong. Here are two very good resources

The first is the NOVA programs. The videos capture authentic situations that individuals face with regards to genetic diseases and also feature the scientists, science behind the project. Its more information packed in multimedia than I can summarize in a set of lecture notes. More information meaning the drama of the video that will contribute to affective learning and hence motivate students to learn more about the subject.

NOVA Online | Cracking the Code of Life | Watch the Program Here

The 2nd is this free,… yes free, online book you can download. Its easy to read and the examples giving illustrate clearly the perplexing “ELSI” issues about genetic testing, abortions, genetic determinism… that will surface once genetic tests become more accessible..

Your Genes, Your Choices: Exploring the Issues Raised by Genetic Research

Think ELSI and genetic testing are still far off… well read this groundbreaking and probably as “Brave New World” as it can get article in the New York Times on how you can pay just under USD$1000 for the company 23andMe to scan your genome for 580,000 SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms). You actually can order the kit.. not sure how it works but I guess you can do it at home for yourself and children. There are at least 3 companies who will do that for around that price.
23andMe - Store - Build Your Order

Just spit..

23andMe - Store - Build Your Order

This NYT journalist got her own genome scanned by just spitting saliva into a little test tube . Here’s a snippet of the article titled “My Genome, Myself: Seeking Clues in DNA

“I don’t like brussels sprouts. Who knew it was genetic? But I have the snippet of DNA that gives me the ability to taste a compound that makes many vegetables taste bitter. I differ from people who are blind to bitter taste — who actually like brussels sprouts — by a single spelling change in our four-letter genetic alphabet: somewhere on human chromosome 7, I have a G where they have a C.”

But that’s just information…. trivia about your genes. It gets more serious when people actually use that information to determine the genetics of their progeny. This couple actually had their daughter “genetically determined” so that she wouldn’t inherit forms of genes that would make her highly susceptible to a certain form of colon cancer. This testing is termed preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., which means you need to cull embryos to get the right one. An eight-cell embryo has gone through fertilization.

Couples Cull Embryos to Halt Heritage of Cancer - New York Times

For this couple, 4 were culled leaving 10 good ones that didn’t have those forms of genes that cause cancer, 2 more were culled when a Down’s syndrome test was done. Think that is unethical? Well there are people who actually remove their large intestines or breasts as a prophylactic measure against such cancers once they find they harbour just the forms of genes that make them susceptible. They may have siblings who have died because of that disease. Watch the 3rd video called One Wrong Letter in the set of videos on Nova and you will know why it becomes so grey.

(thanks to Kevin Lam who pointed out the genome scan link).

~ Adrian

SeaStars 2007 :: The Album

After 4 months, 3 meet-ups, and countless hours of chat and emails…

It is ready.

SeaStars 2007 cover art - 1



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Quote from Mark Twain

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

[Tranquility in the harbour of Skarø / Beschaulichkeit im Hafen von Skarø. Originally uploaded by Markus Merz]

I learned of the quote via Shel’s post, about a blogger from Guam, Leo Babauta, who quit his job to become a pro-blogger“.

Mark Twain’s quote was another reminder for me why it’s necessary to try and live our dream, rather than lament that it didn’t happen.

But living one’s dream doesn’t mean going off the extreme. Like quitting our jobs to make music full-time.

Adrian and I have no plans to make music full-time band. Maybe we’d be able to do that when we retire but that’ll mean another 30 years at least.

Meantime, we’re not going to wait 30 years to make music.

In fact, if you read Leo’s post, you’ll know he didn’t take the plunge blindly. He planned ahead (fascinating read on how he made sure he cleared his debts) before making a decision to go pro.

So who knows? Perhaps in 20 to 30 years time, Adrian and I might be making music full-time. Financially profitable even.

Of course that’s just a wish.

But you know the saying… starting something doesn’t guarantee success but you definitely won’t have any chance for success if you don’t even start.

Ivan Chew - Profile~ Ivan

Kevin uses SeaStars 2007 in his video

theory.isthereason » theorycast.35 :: OLPC = Really “Social” Computing

Thanks to Kevin, for using the tracks from SeaStars 2007 in his video.

When he messaged me that he was “plugging your music in my latest videocast“, I mistakenly thought he was going to do a video review or music video of the songs from SeaStars 2007.

It wasn’t so. Ah, wishful thinking.

But check out his video.

Not for the use of the songs, but about the OLPC XO laptop. 🙂

~ Ivan
p.s. Thanks Kevin, for using the music!

Guerrilla Marketing – courtesy of Kevin Lim

I thought it was for real.

[“Today’s Featured CD: SeaStars 2007”. Originally uploaded by inju]

Like, “We’re famous!”

And: “Hey they didn’t ask for permission to sell our music!”

To: “Heck, we’re famous!”

Then: “Oh… darn. It’s photoshopped!”

It’s a great motivator though.

Thanks, Kevin!

~ Ivan

Loren Eiseley’s Starfish Story

Ivan Chew - ProfileAfter Adrian and I had made a decision on our band name, I discovered Hanna Cooper’s blog where she explained that the Starfish Story was an oft-quoted one from Loren Eiseley’s 1979 book “The Star Thrower”:

Many starfish washed up on shore. A young boy started picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone saw what he was doing and told him that it was pointless, that there were too many to save, that it wouldn’t make a difference. Throwing another starfish into the sea, the little boy responded, “It makes a difference to this one.”

In a seashell nutshell, Adrian and I chose the name “Starfish Stories” because:

  • Adrian’s a biologist (Ph.D., no less) with a penchant for echinoderms while I liked how “Starfish” represented a continuity with “SeaStars” (which was another term for “starfish”)
  • To us, our songs were stories being told in notes and melodies (at least we try to, given the best of our abilities minus any formal musical training)

So now I know there’s really a Starfish Story.

As Hanna wrote, Eiseley’s Starfish Story is an inspirational perspective on how one can make a difference. I’d like to think that for each song Adrian and I create, it’s our way of throwing a starfish back into the sea.

Our songs might not be very polished, musically. It might not be considered good.

We certainly don’t want to celebrate our own mediocrity.

But hopefully there’s that one song from us that would make a difference.

For someone out there.

~ Ivan

coverp.s. the book can be found at the NLB libraries:
ISBN: 0156849097
NLB Call No.: 818.5409 EIS