WATCH: SG50 keyboard gives ethnic twist to pop songs
Ever wondered what Taylor Swift's mega-hit, Shake It Off, would sound like on the erhu?
It's now possible with the first SG50 music keyboard.
Two weeks ago, a group of five Republic Polytechnic students from the School of Technology for the Arts demonstrated their product at the school's annual Symbiosis, a showcase of creative projects and productions by final-year students, at *Scape's ground theatre.
Featuring 27 built-in samples of traditional Chinese, Malay and Indian instruments like the erhu, angklung and tavil, it allows instrumentalists to play their favourite tunes using Singapore-flavoured multi-ethnic sounds.
Ms Joey Lim, 22, one of the group members, told M: "We decided on this project because it's a good way to commemorate SG50, to remind people of our ethnic roots and how we're all made up of different races living together harmoniously."
The group embarked on the project last November and took about four months to complete it.
Partnering with local music store City Music, they worked with musicians to record sound samples of each traditional instrument. Subsequently, they had to categorise, archive and edit the recordings, before mapping the sound files onto the keyboard engine.
Ms Norris Sufiqah, 21, said: "Time constraint was one of the greatest challenges. We had to book the studio and equipment, and liaise with musicians and ourselves for a suitable time to go down. We're from different classes, so our schedules often clashed."
Ms Lim added: "Language barrier was another difficulty. I remember one Indian percussionist who played the dholak and could speak only Tamil."
Mr Ng Ting Hsiang, 35, the group's project supervisor, said: "In music production, there are different techniques used to produce a desired sound.
"This project required a different treatment because instead of editing music, they had to edit pure sound samples. The need to preserve the authenticity of the sound made it more challenging."
The SG50 keyboard, estimated to cost $1,000, will be manufactured by KORG and be available for purchase exclusively in Singapore by July.
As for the number of SG50 keyboards that will be produced, Mr Hoe Yeegn Lougn, 40, the director of sales for City Music, said there is no limit, since this keyboard model is an ongoing product.
"The ethnic sounds are just additional features," he added.
Group member Azurah Jan, 23, who will take her Grade Eight piano exam this year, said: "I'm glad the project is about something I'm familiar with. But it's a greater responsibility since I'm the only one who can play and demo on it."
Ms Lim said: "I hope this project will educate others just like how it has educated us."