Creating a Shared Spirit Through Music:


2017 / November

Lee Shan Wei /photos courtesy of Wind Music /tr. by Mark Rawson

Ever since Pangu created the universe, a natural music has resounded constantly through it, permeating our cells. It is the expression of the self, and the language of peoples. Those who love it explore its original implications with a reverential attitude, identifying interconnected spiritual resonances in distinctive regional forms. A music craze that has spanned the world for half a century fulfilled a dream for Taiwan in 2016. In the fall of 2017, in Tai­pei’s Da­jia Riverside Park, the joy is overflowing once again.

An inspiration among peoples

Musical notes and melodies have never been absent from the life of mankind. Babies’ innate waving of hands, kicking of feet and sing-song babblings string together the rhythm of notes, extolling the creativity of life. This common language of humanity pours the water of life into national cultures. Under the guidance of music, all the peoples of the world can connect seamlessly.

“World music” is not just a fashionable term; it has its academic place. It was first formally defined in 1965, in the ethnomusicology syllabus at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. “The appellation has its origins in the United States. All the music that was not mainstream in America began to be called ‘world music,’” says Yu Su-ying, the curator of World Music Festival Taiwan, and director of planning at Wind Music International Corporation. Music originates in culture. Even a very minor musical tradition has its historical significance. If one explores in depth the particular character of each regional musical style, one finds that it conceals a subtle pulse of its living environment delicately embedded in the music.

Colorful world music

The peoples of the world are many and varied, so world music is inevitably richly diverse. On the basis of the idea of the global village, all kinds of distinctive music are worthy of respect and preservation.

Amid frequent cultural interaction, musical styles gradually blend. Packaged by mass media and ­commercial fashion, the definition of “world music” has become broader and broader, presenting a harmony between tradition and modernity. “There are actually no specific criteria, but more a kind of spirit,” says Yu Su-ying. “African music was taken into the United States along with Negro slaves. That reverberating rhythm would later influence jazz. When jazz-influenced styles of music made their way back to Africa, they set off yet another wave.” These interactions between different regions have kindled infinite sparks.

“Although the lyrics were in languages we didn’t understand, those melodies and rhythms gave us an indescribable feeling of intimacy; it was as though our ancestral spirits were calling us, drawing us.” So say Boxing, a band which has developed the world music beat passionately and eclectically and was formed by members of Taiwan’s indigenous Paiwan tribe. “We created music in different styles, such as rock, hip-hop, Latin and electronic music, but all in our own mother tongue, giving voice to the passion within our souls.” Using battle rhythms that took no prisoners, they dared to innovate, courageously injecting traditional Eastern music into Western rock ’n’ roll, integrating American jazz with indigenous chanting. Constantly introducing new elements, they are helping to erode the geographical boundaries of folk music, giving listeners a completely new experience.

Chung She­fong—coordinator of the blog Trees, Music and Art, founded in 1993, which strives to promote ethnic music—believes that the core of ethnic music is that it must have ample culture to support it if it is to be refined into a mature form with substance. The fusion of musical styles from different parts of the world should not consist in the coarsely decontextualized creation of a superficial exoticism and sense of mystery, but requires a respectful attitude and a dialogue of equals, to produce music that builds on the historical depth and overall context of the different traditions.

Resonating with the melodies of the universe

On August 15, 1969, a gigantic jamboree of music got underway beneath the open skies of the eastern USA. Over three days, on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near a hamlet named White Lake in the town of Bethel in upstate New York, 32 acts played before a crowd of some 400,000. The event was called the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, and it was a defining moment in rock music history. Thereafter, similar outdoor events were held all over the world, one after the other.

Imagine, on the grass and in the mud of vast fields, multitudes returning to the exuberance of childhood, gyrating and singing joyfully without care or inhibition. These are the scenes at the world’s biggest green-field music festival, the Glastonbury Festival. Since its founding in Great Britain in 1970, almost half a century ago, its annual crowds have grown exponentially, from 500 at the very beginning to some 175,000 this year.

In 1983, Peter Gabriel, leader of British rock group Genesis, launched a large-scale outdoor performance event, the World of Music, Arts, and Dance Festival (WOMAD), repositioning world music once again. It has become an annual bonanza in the popular music world.

This kind of fanatical enthusiasm for music has not only created constantly changing rainbows on the horizons of the US and UK, but sprays glittering sparks all over the rest of the world. Scotland, France, Spain, Portugal, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, one after the other, have hosted a succession of magnificent events.

Musical sparks from Taiwan

Music is infectious and Taiwan too is constantly generating the enjoyment it spawns. The Formoz Festival, which began in 1994, introduced to Taiwan the het­ero­gen­eous sounds of ethnic groups from all over the world, as well as blessing the nation with the atmosphere of the world’s music festivals. The Migration Music Festival, held at the outdoor music stage in ­Tai­pei’s Daan Park, not only saw contemporary world pop music performed in Taiwan, but also promoted some traditional tunes and singers from Taiwan to the world.

Spring Scream, starting in 1995, and held annually in Ken­ting at Taiwan’s southern tip, is the longest-running large-scale music festival in Taiwan’s history, as well as the nation’s largest international music, art and cultural performance event. In its record-breaking 2007 edition more than 230 domestic and overseas acts appeared over three days, with performances running simultaneously on ten stages.

The beat gravitated from Taiwan’s tail all the way to her head. Such events as the Ho-hai-yan Rock Festival at Gong­liao in New Tai­pei City and the ­Chiayi City International Band Festival added their own momentum, helping the music lovers of this treasure island to weave together the background to their lives.

Generating pride in Taiwan

In 2000, Tai­pei Arts International Association held a six-day “Taiwan World Music Festival” in Tai­pei, inviting singers and instrumentalists from Greece, Belgium and Hungary to perform music that blended traditional and popular styles.

The World Music Festival, organized by the Ministry of Culture, made its debut in 2015, and in 2016 attracted more than 30,000 delighted music fans. “I wanted to forge a music festival that belongs to the entire population, enabling family members, lovers, married couples and friends to enjoy a shared memory,” says Yu Su-ying, her eyes shining.

And now it’s time for World Music Festival Taiwan 2017, with the slogan “move your body, music your life.” On stage or off, there are no barriers. As long as you let yourself go, take off on the wings of musical dreams, immerse yourself in the joy of taking part and share in the writing of a common music of life.

This event mixing the intellectual with the emotional has attracted the attention of many notable figures in the world of music. Among the official activities are presentations by the curators of such events and institutions as the World Music Expo (WOMEX), Australia’s WOMADel­aide, Japan’s Okinawan Festival, mainland China’s Folk on the Road music festival, the Center for the Art of Performance at the University of California, Los Angeles, and New Mexico’s annual celebration of world music and culture, ¡Globalquerque!

These international presentations bring new musical values and open up new and otherwise inaccessible horizons, giving Taiwan an opportunity to breathe diverse musical scents from other terrains. “Taiwan too has many treasures of music and art, which other regions struggle to rival.” So says a confident Yu Su-ying, who has been deeply involved in local music for many years.

May this musical jamboree enable the uniqueness and preciousness of Taiwan’s traditional music and art to shine brightly and warmly, displaying new local talent. May it be passed from Taiwan to the world, to create pride and vibes that will always be Taiwan’s!         





文‧李珊瑋 圖‧風潮音樂提供











當人們厭倦了統合的複雜,就會珍惜原創的純潔。源自於族群的「世界音樂」,正在回歸本質,展現它迷人的質樸。無論是印尼爪畦、巴峇島的甘美朗合奏、印度的長頸Sitar琴、非洲Kora豎琴,與代表地中海沿海文化的西班牙塔特西里拉琴(Tartessian Lyre),以及世上最古老的歌唱音樂seikilos,都有它特異的文化根源與音樂傳奇。




音樂與舞蹈,可以是一種自主的愉悅,也可以是一種眾人的共鳴。1969年8月15日,美國開風氣之先,讓音樂在天地間擺出盛宴。當時在紐約伯利恆鎮白湖村附近的牧場,舉行32場演出,吸引了40萬人次的觀賞。這項演出稱為「胡士托音樂藝術節」(Woodstock Music & Art Fair),是搖滾樂史上重要的轉捩點之一。自此世界各地紛紛跟進,一場又一場的戶外音樂會,如雨後春筍般,百花齊放,萬家爭鳴。


寬闊的草地上、泥濘中,人人回歸童稚的不拘,忘我的跳躍歡唱。這是全世界最大的草地戶外音樂節「格拉斯頓柏立當代表演藝術節」(Glastonbury Festival)的寫照,自1970年在英國創始以來,近半世紀間,參加的人次由最初的500人,以百倍數的速度,持續成長,屢屢刷新紀錄。

此外,美國「創世紀」搖滾樂團團長Peter Gabriel在1983年發起大型戶外表演活動「音樂、藝術與舞蹈的世界節慶」(World of Music, Arts, and Dance Festival, WOMAD),為世界音樂重新定位,至今已成為流行樂界的年度盛事。



音樂是有感染力的,台灣也不停地創造出這份感動。1994年開始的「野台開唱」(Formoz Festival),將全球各族群的異質聲音引介進來,也把世界音樂節的氛圍帶進台灣。在大安森林公園露天舞台舉辦的「流浪之歌音樂會」,不僅把世界當前的流行樂曲在台灣展演,更把台灣的傳統樂曲歌手們推向國際。

1995年開始,在台灣最南端墾丁舉辦的「春天吶喊」(Spring Scream),簡稱「春吶」,為台灣歷史最悠久的大型音樂祭,也是台灣規模最大的國際型音樂藝術文化展演活動。寫下10個舞台同時開演的創舉,三天內,超過230組國內外演出者,破紀錄輪番演出。

這份悸動,由台灣尾,傳動到台灣頭。貢寮國際海洋音樂祭(Ho-hai-yan Rock Festival)、嘉義市國際管樂節(Chiayi City International Band Festival)等紛紛帶動,讓寶島的愛樂人,一起編織生命的背景。二十多年來的經營,把這種在露天聆賞音樂的氛圍,變成生活中的常態,讓更多人能夠輕鬆自在地享受音樂。








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