Fusing Music and Technology to Shape a World Where Everyone Can Learn.
(Part 1)

Dania Murad / Researcher

Musical Experiences with Family and Friends are Always Deep in Her Mind.

Having spent her young adulthood in Pakistan, Dania Murad left her childhood home to explore new ways of fusing music and technology at the famous National University of Singapore. From as far back as she can remember, she has always amused herself with singing. Her voice is her musical instrument. We spoke to her about the beginnings of her journey with song.

Singing with relatives was a familiar sight for me.

My first experiences with music were singing with friends and relatives. My parents and younger brother had little interest in songs, but I remember clinging to my uncle or grandmother and singing classical songs with them. Family bonds were strong in my homeland of Pakistan, so our singalongs were a natural part of life. I also remember joining friends from school in boisterous choruses of song.

My father was a great fan of vintage classical movies. While he never sang along, he would often watch the movies in the theatre room of our house. I shared my father’s love for classical music perhaps because I became familiar with them in this way. Mukesh, one of the more traditional singers in the old classics genre, is still a favorite of mine. I also adore Noor Jehan from Pakistan, another traditional singer.

A childhood filled with memories of singing songs from classical films with family relatives.

Music has the power to connect people.

In my junior and senior high school days, I would love getting together with relatives at wedding parties to sing along as a group. Yet music was more of a pleasure for me than a serious hobby or major part of life. I loved singing, but it was no more than one aspect of my life, and as I lived the life of an ordinary teenager, I was also busy with sports and study. Later, at the university, I ran a singing contest, but I never had the notion of going into music-related work.

What singing means to me is always about sharing a fun space with the people around me and adding color to our community, be it a group gathered at relatives’ wedding or colleagues at workplaces. At the large telecom company where I worked after university, my coworkers and I sang for much of a three-hour bus ride to an employee training event. Whenever the energy level started to dip, my bosses and coworkers asked me to liven things up with song requests.

On the same bus ride, I was also called on in the Pakistani game of Antakshari. Half of the bus (one team) would sing a song, then the other half start another using the last words of the song by the other team. You really need to know a lot of songs, remember all of the lyrics, and can sing them all completely, from beginning to end, and I was pretty good at it.

A great memory from when I organized the national singing contest, Solo Singing, my third year as an undergraduate in NUST.

A fascination with the fusion of music and technology drew me in.

At university I majored in computer engineering to put my math skills to the best possible use. I was confident that I had strong future potential. The company I joined after graduation kept me busy with technical work for two years. Then came my move to Singapore.

I had long wanted to take graduate studies overseas, and Singapore was the ideal location. By then I was married to a man who had not only graduated from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, but was also working in Singapore locally. The circumstances were perfect for my graduate research ambitions: I could live with my husband and pursue my studies in a multicultural society and powerhouse center of higher education. My fascination with the fusion of music and technology drew me to the Sound & Music Computing Lab at NUS. I had a hunch that the lab’s concept, “Making use of music in education,” would perfectly match the values I cherished. So there I was, starting my new life in Singapore.

Singing in front of my colleagues after being requested to sing on a company trip.

Read the Part 2

Dania Murad / Researcher
Dania Murad graduated from the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan with an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering in 2014. After 2 years in the telecommunications industry, she joined the graduate program in the Sound & Music Computing Lab in the National University of Singapore. She currently researches the use of music in technology and learning.

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