LOVE STORY (Taylor Swift) meets VIVA LA VIDA (Coldplay) – Piano Cello – by Jon Schmidt

Love the chord changes in this arrangement. It’s the very kind I try to emulate.

Thanks to Wei Meng from Librarians-In-Singapore for sharing this.

~ Ivan

Songcraft is Two!

Congrats to the folks at Songcraft.

They’re TWO!

Celebrated their 2nd anniversary recently.


Looking good, Jeremy. Looking good.

Jeremy’s the founder of Songcraft. As he wrote in the songcraft blog post, he started the group and basically let it evolve. He did share with the group, after one Songcraft meetup (when I was a regular attendee), that he had some plans. I sensed that he’s a systematic guy with some sense of where to take Songcraft. But what’s unknown is the turnout (including who were the people who might attend) and the sustainability.

Some things one will never know until it’s tried.

And so far, Songcraft’s been a pretty cool proving ground/ support group for those interested in showcasing and performing their songs in front of a strangers.

Personally, I think they ought to try starting a regular podcast series for songcraft. I know some of the regular Songcrafters, including Jeremy, are Mac users.

Hey people! GarageBand!!!

~ Ivan

New song: “To Be Free”

A rock anthem that I composed and arranged over the week.

Playing my bass guitar

TO BE FREE (2009)
Download at
Composed, performed (electric lead and bass guitars), arranged, mixed and sound engineered by Ivan Chew. Please credit to
Creative Commons LicenseTo Be Free (2009) by Ivan Chew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Singapore License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at ramblinglibrarian [at]

Details at


~ Ivan

Song: The Mangrove Tree v2

We dedicate this song to our friends A. & S.

“Live long and prosper”.

Listen/ Download the higher quality track at

Creative Commons LicenseThe Mangrove Tree v2 by Adrian Loo & Ivan Chew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Singapore License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at starfishstories [at]

This song was composed and performed entirely by Adrian. He emailed the initial version to Ivan, who decided to do a little re-arrangement, editing, remixing and sound engineering (based on the ideas expressed in the song). Adrian also specifically asked for the Gamelan to be incorporated (you hear bits of that at the start, middle and the end).

Here’s Adrian’s original version:

Adrian elaborates:

… I was mucking around with my guitar the other day to discover some tune that would come naturally to me.

I picture a mangrove tree out in the open sea away from the main mangrove forest. its about existence and being true to oneself however odd/insignificant one may be.

We live our lives trying to hard to be significant to have a certain ascendancy. I think the fact is, everyone is interconnected so like the insignificant mangrove tree, one may find a mudskipper, a tree-climbing crab on its back, humans using it for charcoal, the stilt-roots as hiding places for fry.

The mangrove is salt-tolerant and pan-tropical, it has to adapt to the anoxious silt substratum by aerial roots that have to come out of the oxygen poor mud to take in oxygen for respiration. The mangrove is also viviparous, meaning the seeds are germinated on the parent tree and are already miniature plantlets waiting to be dispersed and once they take root, development is already underway.

“Anoxious”, “substratum”, “viviparous”… Heh, Adrian’s PhD in biology shows, doesn’t it?


ccMixter remix: We Are Boats (Rock Ballad) ft. Panu Moon

I wanted to give myself a week at least to savour this remix (the fun is in the process, as ccMixters would know). But I obsessed over it and completed the song in 3 days (a third of that time was spent refining sound engineering levels and effects… still not entirely happy with it).

What can I say? I never grew up beyond ’80s rock. 🙂

We Are Boats (Rock Ballad) ft. Panu Moon

Creative Commons LicenseWe Are Boats (Rock Ballad) ft. Panu Moon by Ivan Chew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Singapore License.Based on a work at


First I tried to figure out the chords that would fit panu’s vocal recording. Turned out to be E/A/B.

I recorded the rhythm guitar tracks into GarageBand. Then edited panu’s vocals to fit the tempo and arrangement. Added the lead guitar part.

Here’s the sound-engineering bit: I exported the instrument/ track parts (e.g. vocals, rhythm, lead, drums) as AIFF files, without the reverb effects etc. Then re-imported to GarageBand and fine-tuned the sound levels. Finally added a bass to top off the song.

I could have just used GarageBand’s “Auto-Normalize” feature and saved myself the hassle of exporting and importing the tracks. But after comparing the difference between the two methods, it was clear that the extra effort was worth it. The sound was much more crisp. The Auto-Normalize function is great in that I don’t have to worry about red-lining (i.e. the loudness creating a buzz in the speakers) but it tend to also make the overall sound muffled. I think it reduces the treble frequencies or something.
Advanced setting - GarageBand 08

Anyway… I enjoyed composing and mixing this song.


~ Ivan