© 2018

Semionauts of Tradition

Music, Culture and Identity in Contemporary Singapore


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Juliette Yu-Ming Lizeray, Chee-Hoo Lum
    Pages 1-12
  3. Juliette Yu-Ming Lizeray
    Pages 71-106
  4. Tan Qing Lun, Tse Natalie Alexandra, Halid Syafiq, Rajasekaran Raghavendran, Guo Ming, Wang Wei Yang et al.
    Pages 205-223
  5. Juliette Yu-Ming Lizeray, Chee-Hoo Lum
    Pages 225-249
  6. Juliette Yu-Ming Lizeray, Chee-Hoo Lum
    Pages C1-C1

About this book


This book explores questions of identity, cultural change and creativity from the perspective of contemporary musicians currently engaged in redefining Asian musical traditions and notions of heritage in Singapore. Drawing on the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, and ethnomusicology, Semionauts of Traditionfocuses on emerging millennial musicians and explores the complex and interwoven cultural, national, musical, and personal identifications in their discourse and music practice. It shows how they create fluid, hybrid and counter-hegemonic forms of expression, representation and identity through their navigation of diverse cultural worlds, their incorporation of a myriad of elements into their own identities and music, and their contestations of preconceived notions of difference and tradition. The book exposes paradoxes within current thinking about ‘multiracialism’, ‘racial harmony’, the ‘East/West divide’ and ‘tradition versus modernity,’ and proposes new ways of understanding identity, cultural change and creativity in a highly globalised, and diverse nation. This highly-original polyvocal account of a burgeoning music scene includes photos, musical scores and reaction pieces by musicians. It is a timely contribution to global discussions about ‘multiculturalism from below,’ as well as musical, cultural and national identities in a postcolonial Southeast Asian setting, from the viewpoint of artists engaged in creative meaning-making.

"This captivating book explores - with tremendous intellectual vitality - the dialectic relationships between the cultural, ethnic and national identities of Singapore’s creative youth, and their creative practice. A compelling read!"
Dr Liora Bresler, Professor, University of Illinois

"A well-researched and thoughtfully well-written book about the diverse forms of music in Singapore and the musicians who created it." 
- Jeremy Monteiro, jazz pianist, singer, composer, and music educator

"This wonderfully lucid and compelling book analyzes the musical and cultural creativity of young Singaporean musicians growing up in a multicultural and ethnically plural society, bringing Asian and Western musical cultures into creative dialogue."
- Dr Deborah Pacini Hernandez, Professor Emeritus, Tufts University

"A thought provoking dialogue on contemporary Singaporean music!"
-Eric Watson, composer, conductor, music technologist and pedagogue


Semionauts of tradition Music, culture and identity in contemporary Singapore Music in contemporary Singapore Ethnomusicology in contemporary Singapore Youth and music in contemporary Singapore Cultural identities in contemporary Singapore Postcolonial studies Music education Music scene in Singapore Musicians in contemporary Singapore Asian traditional music Culture and media Music and cultural identities

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

About the authors

Juliette Yu-Ming Lizeray is an anthropologist, writer and award-winning visual artist based in Singapore and New York. She obtained an MSc in Anthropology and Development from the London School of Economics, and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Tufts University. She has conducted anthropological field research among tsunami survivors in Aceh, Central American communities in Boston, the Chinese diaspora in Cuba, indigenous communities in Brazil, and South American migrants in the informal settlements of Buenos Aires. More recently, she has carried out research on music and intercultural theatre in Singapore. Juliette also works as a freelance writer and has published exclusive stories about Singapore’s doomsday preppers, furries, buskers and sneakerheads, as well as on ghost-hunting, sustainable urban farming, and the oldest Teochew opera troupe on the island. Her first book, The Human Spirit Can Overcome Tragedy, is about Acehnese tsunami survivors. Her ethnography of the Central American Solidarity Movement and grassroots organising was published by the Tufts University Anthropology department. As a visual artist, she has received several international awards for her documentary and experimental films. Her work has screened at festivals in over 45 countries, including États Généraux du Film Documentaire (France), the Anthology Film Archives (USA), Experiments in Cinema (USA), Cine Esquema Novo (Brazil), Women in Film and TV International Showcase (USA), among others. Juliette’s video art and installations have shown at galleries in Rio de Janeiro and New York City. Bringing together her love of anthropology, storytelling and the moving image, she worked as a filmmaking instructor at the Fluminense Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, traveling across Brazil to empower members of indigenous communities to tell their stories through documentary films.

Chee-Hoo Lum is associate professor of music education with the Visual & Performing Academic Group at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is the Head of UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE), part of a region-wide network of Observatories stemming from the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Action Plan. He is also the Coordinator of the newly formed UNESCO UNITWIN: Arts Education Research for Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development. Chee-Hoo's research interests include issues towards identity, cultural diversity and multiculturalism, technology and globalization in music education; children's musical cultures; creativity and improvisation; and elementary music methods. He is currently the Co-Editor of IJME Research (International Journal of Music Education) and on the editorial board of JRME (Journal of Research in Music Education) and RSME (Research Studies in Music Education).

Bibliographic information