Speech by Mrs Phoon Chew Ping, Chief Executive, National Library Board, at the Launch of MusicSG, on Thursday 11 November 2010, 7.00pm, at the Pod, Level 16, National Library Building

Release Date : 11 Nov 2010

Ms Irene Ng, Member of Parliament, Tampines GRC and Member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Information, Communications and the Arts

Dr Edmund Lam, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS)

Members of the MusicSG Advisory Committee

NLB Board Members

Distinguished Guests

1. Good evening and welcome to the launch of MusicSG.

2. Allow me to start off this joyous occasion with a quote from Greek philosopher Plato. He said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Indeed, as Plato so beautifully put it, music plays an important role in enriching our lives. In many cultures around the world, music is seen as a way of expression and source of inspiration.

3. The local music industry plays a key role in Singapore's cultural scene. It has produced many original works from the early years of our history. Some of these recorded works are no longer in circulation or are stored on old technology such as cassette tapes and floppy disks. There is therefore an increasing need to collect and preserve these valuable local works through digitisation and archival efforts. This is vital to ensure that our musical heritage is preserved for our future generations.

4. To achieve this goal, the National Library Board (NLB) and COMPASS signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2009 which allows NLB to tap on COMPASS's physical local music collection for digitisation. Today, we are here to celebrate a major achievement of this partnership – the creation of MusicSG, Singapore's first digital archive and website for local musical works[1]!

5. This is a significant step as MusicSG will allow music lovers access to an online collection of musical works in the various genres that are unique to Singapore. The MusicSG website will have audio recordings, scores and information which can be accessed from all NLB's libraries, and where rights permit remotely.

6. As of today, NLB has digitised and archived about 3,000 local musical works. We are making good progress. By the end of this year, we would have about 8,000 digitised items in our music archive.

7. This achievement would not have been possible if not for the strong support of the local music industry and donors.

a) First, I would like to thank Dr Edmund Lam, Chief Executive Officer and Director of COMPASS for his role in bringing about the collaboration with COMPASS and his continued support and belief in this project.

b) I would also like to thank Ms Barbara Wong, General Manager of the Recording Industry Association, Singapore for her advice in the area of rights clearances.

c) In addition I would like to thank our MusicSG Advisory Committee members for their guidance, strong support, and helping NLB to establish contact with various industry partners and individuals.

8. I would also like to thank some of our generous donors who came forward with their musical works when they heard of MusicSG. They include:

a. Dr Bernard Tan, Professor at the National University of Singapore and member of COMPASS and Composers Society of Singapore;

b. Professor Jeremy Monteiro, renowned jazz composer and COMPASS board member;

c. Dr Kelly Tang, Associate Professor of Music at the National Institute of Education and member of Composers Society of Singapore;

d. Mr Liu Bin, member of Association of Composers (Singapore) and President of the National Theatre Club;

e. Mr Phoon Yew Tien, distinguished classical music composer.

f. Mr Quek Yong Siu, President of the Association of Composers (Singapore); and

g. Mr Yusnor Ef, President of PERKAMUS and COMPASS board member.

h. In particular, we are grateful to Mr Hillary Francis for having loaned 194 musical works, letters and photos, which made him the largest contributor to MusicSG thus far.

Besides these donors, MusicSG has garnered strong support from other contributors, to whom we are extremely grateful.

9. NLB will be holding a second donation drive for music materials from 13 November to 19 December this year. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage COMPASS members and the public to continue to give generously to Singapore's own music archive. If you or your organisation have published local musical works and wish to donate them to MusicSG, please contact Ms Tan Tin Hee from the MusicSG team. Together with you, the contributor, we will seek copyright clearances before these materials are made available on MusicSG.

10. In closing, I would like to once again thank the MusicSG Advisory Committee and the members of the project team for their strong support and hard work. The MusicSG is a significant milestone in Singapore's musical heritage. Thank you all for making this project a success!

[1] MusicSG is a digital archive that assembles a collection of music composed or published by Singaporeans, music produced or published in Singapore, and music related to Singapore.