This image features stock image vintage illustrations of a cross section of a tree and a seismograph.

Letters To What We Want is a series of letters composed by friends, responding to the question ‘What do you want? In 2021 and beyond?’. The format was left open, as was the choice to sign off anonymously or with a pseudonym.

In exchange, I sent them an artwork, which can be viewed at the end of the post.

Country music 的诠释是乡谣,其中一种音乐风格。它普遍定位于一个地区民族的音乐风格,也普遍定位于不插电乐器的音乐风格。突发奇想不妨换个诠释,不妨称它为国家音乐,每个世界角落国家的音乐。那它会有哪些歌曲为代表呢?就先说有语言歌唱的曲子吧。 英文歌,韩语歌曲等等所有国家的语言,琳琳种种地一瞬间,我刚刚称呼这世界角落的音乐就激增了无数的风格和歌曲。且慢,可以么? 这般规化很不对劲,这近十年的英文歌和韩语歌等等等可都是同在一个框架里,除了只是不同的语言但是音律音拍大致相同,请试想想成千上万抄来抄去的作文涌进作文比赛中,这哪是作文比赛啦,明明变成了错字罚抄比赛…

Country music stands for folk tunes, a kind of music genre. It’s generally characterized as the local music of a particular region, and by its unplugged sound. On a whim, why not shift the interpretation and call it national music, the music of every country in the world. What songs would be representative? Let’s talk about the languages the songs are sung in. English songs, Korean songs, the songs of all the world’s languages – in an instant, what I just called global national music brings up a multitude of songs and sounds. But wait a minute, this kind of categorization doesn’t make sense. In the past ten years, English songs, Korean songs, etc etc etc all sit in a similar frame – they may be sung in different languages, but the melodies and tempos are pretty much the same. Imagine millions of copied essays flooding an essay competition. Come on, essay competition? More like a typos and copying competition…

今时今日的科技被滥用成灾,很多人也太多人明明知道却还是依网览观看人数为据,不是先看内容…离题也不介意… 打个比如,唱歌比赛节目里的选手大部分都能唱,唱的也不是新创自创的歌曲,就没人在意歌手也不过是一首作品之一,再好的歌手也不能代表一首好音乐啊。多些交换效率的心得,少些打发无聊的时间。本就那么容易却又谈何容易。

Today’s technology is abused, and most people know it, but they still rely on the number of online viewers, instead of looking at the content… Let me digress a bit. For example, most contestants in a singing competition can sing, and what they’re singing isn’t new or original. Even if we don’t care who’s singing it, the song is still a great piece of work. No matter how good a singer is, they can’t replace a great piece of music. A little more exchange of sincere insights, a little less empty noise please. It IS that easy, but still, easier said than done.


Every language and sound in every corner of the world is a kind of music, so too the movement of every bird and every ant, each with its own high pitch and low hum, mixing on this land. Every last one is indispensable, unable to make music on their own. There should be as many kinds of music as there are corners of the world.


I’m very grateful to all my friends for taking care of, and tolerating, my whimsical imaginings and weird ramblings. On this life journey, these teachers and friends from different backgrounds are like different kinds of music, making up for my ignorance and strengthening my own abilities. These different voices never stop taking root, fermenting, settling and blooming in my heart. I hope everyone will keep facing ahead, walking side by side. Those who can sprint go ahead and sprint, but please remember to take a break. As for those who are still unable to synchronize, hurry up, we’re waiting for you on this road we’re constructing together.


I really look forward to the blossoming of a new era. Different magical powers already exist in every corner. May each one be the enlightenment and complement of the others.

– Tan Kok Boon (English translation by Sharon Chin)

Image of Country Musik: Movements #7, given in exchange for this letter.
An edition of this work is available in the shop.