A Journey in Music: Contemporary World Music in Taiwan

by on Wednesday, 22 June 2011 Comments

Dear friends,

We are very proud to finally present you with a CD that can be seen as a milestone in the production of world music in Taiwan. This collection of 12 songs is a wonderful, euphonic sample of the creativity and hard work of the bands and musicians who stepped forward to be a part of the project. We congratulate and give great thanks to all the gifted participating musicians.

This unique compilation provides you with a variety of musical textures: from Asian-western fusions to Indian fusions, world jazz, improvisation music, electronic and electro-acoustic, and even flamenco! We all have the music of the world playing tunefully in our hearts and what we play comes not from just one country, colour or creed, but a plethora of interlinking, cross—pollinating influences from around the globe. Most of us are travelers, foreigners, alien souls and our music reflects this drifting lifestyle.

The World Music scene can be enriched by the musicians participating in this project. Not only by joining them in one single disk, but also by generating parallel initiatives like concerts, round tables and eventually new ensembles with members of the bands. It can also help Taiwan’s musical scene to weave more links with other world scenes while consolidating music styles identifiable as Taiwanese to be part of the world’s musical heritage. The mission of every band is to keep on producing and coming up with ideas to expand the possibilities of music. This journey starts with this CD.

Music always reflects the quality of society. So we hope that day by day, more and more people will join this inner journey of music and enjoy with us what we want to share with all.

Sound blessings,

Jose Duarte, San Jose, Costa Rica
Composer/Improviser/Guitarist. M.A. Music National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan).

Fabian Torres

Cerise Phiv
eRenlai Managing Editor


CD Track List

1. Tug of War (2008) 4:40 - ShantaaL
Indian Raga music meets restless rap style lyrics, and the global warming issue tugs on us with the full force of its tension, creating a very special listening experience. (Composed by ShantaaL)

2. Ganesh (2006) 5:59 - A Moving Sound
Ganesh is one of the most popular Hindu Gods who is said to be able to break through all obstacles and bring wisdom and good fortune. If you want to live as artist in Taiwan or anywhere else on this planet you must have Ganesh on your side! A Moving Sound borrows a taste of India in this compostion and adds to it the flavor of beautiful Chinese instruments such as the erhu and zhong ruan with vocalist Mia Hsieh's lush and evocative singing. (Composer: Scott Prairie).

3. Sukhena  Live recording at Witch House in Taipei (2010) 5:10 - Coromandel Express
SUKHENA, Sanskrit for "Transcendental Happiness," is based on the midnight melody, Raga Chandrakauns. Centuries of musicians have played this raga in honor of Chandra, the moon.  Enjoy the pulsing grooves as you are lifted up to the moon by Sukhena - Coromandel Express' frenetic celebration of nocturnal joy! (Composed by Wakaike Toshihiro “Waka”&Kanemitsu Ryohei”YO”; arranged by Coromandel Express).

4. Future Island Underground (2011) 3:38 - Minkoku Hyakunen
We tried to compose a world-music piece with the idea of noise, random and asymmetry. Zhang and Huang ask their friend Imyme to join them just for fun. Maybe you could call it “under-world music”? We hope that people in the future will love it! (Composers: You-sheng Zhang and Da-wang Huang).

5. Mambe in Solitude (2011) 7:01 - Fao
"Mambe" is a traditional way of chewing coca leaves for aboriginals in South America. It is a ritual for recharging energy day by day and is also a tool used by shamans to acquire different powers. The piece narrates my inner journey chewing coca in solitude in the Amazon. The piece contains Chinese flutes and guqin (古琴), Indian tabla and electronic sounds. The instruments play their characteristic sound in their respective traditional music, but sometimes with a different flavour, so the flutes can sound like music from the Andes, the tabla like Afro-American drums, and the guqin (古琴) like primitive jungle string instruments, while the final rhythm resembles Colombia's cumbia. The electronics adds the colours of the "other reality" seen while chewing coca. (Composer: Fao)

6. Liquid Reincarnation (2010) 3:43 -Usi AJ
One chilly evening, I dreamt I was a drop of water, who evaporated into the sky, but fell back to the ground with the rain. After repeating this process several times, I was tossing and turning and awoke in my dream. I immediately documented this feeling with this emphatic work, a rarity in the Chinese world. (Composer: Usi AJ)

7. Ay Mujé (2011) 4:09 - Alma Itana
Ay Mujé (pronounced Ay Muhe) is a song inspired by the experience of a passionate love, which was not returned, like so many in life. Even though the girl seems to love him, she plays with his feelings, pretending a summer love in the middle of the winter. (Composer: Guillermo Esquivel)
"Ay mujé ya no juegues mas con mi ser, mirame a los ojos y dime , que soy para ti?"
[English] "Oh Woman, do not play anymore with my heart, look at my eyes and tell me, what am I for you?"

8. Harvest Drum (2011) 5:27 - Flâneur Daguerre
Harvest Drum is our arrangement of a well-known melody heard around Chinese New Year. Amidst the festival clamor is a chance to feature Weichung Lin's superb drumming. Our version takes many sharp turns, changing key almost every measure, and combines the local festival image with heroic 'spaghetti western' film music, Tom Waits, or whatever you might hear in your own listening! (Composed by P'eng Hsiu-wen (彭修文), arr. Flâneur Daguerre).

9. Sibboleth Bassadeh (2010) 5:21 - Orbit Folks
Sibboleth Bassadeh is a traditional Jewish folk song. Orbit Folks rearranged the melody and inserted a section open to improvisation. There is no fixed form, only tonal center (Dm) around which the musicians improvise melodies and chord changes.

10. Quaquaversality (2009) 7:00 - Luo Chao Yun & Quaqua
This piece was recorded live in London as part of the three day Fete Quaqua 2009. The aim of the music is for the musicians, acknowledged masters of their respective instruments and all from different backgrounds, to spontaneously play music together. A basic given being that any sounds available from the instrument can be considered as possible musical material. In this piece it is possible to hear pipa player Luo Chao yun using many non-traditional techniques including playing notes not on the fingerboard and using a slide. (Luo Chao Yun: pipa,  John Russell, UK: guitar, Sabu Toyozumi, Japan: drums, Henry Lowther, UK: trumpet, Lol Coxhill, UK: soprano saxophone).

11. Thin Streams Flow Forever (2011) 5:08 - Ka Dao Yin
We use Yunnan folk tune “little river drips water” as materials for doing a conversation of improvisation.

12. Culture Clash (2006) 5:05 - Viba
Lush electronic pads, beats, and effects, fused with dancing zithers of Cherry Wang and Chinese instrumentation. This song was the foundation for my East-West Relations album. (Paul Gourier: Composer, Cherry Wang : Zither).

This CD is distributed for free in Taiwan with Renlai Magazine #84 (July-August 2011). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info on how to get a copy of the magazine. There are also three Renlai concerts planned in Taipei on Sat. 9 July, Fri. 19 August and Fri. 16 September. More info here.

Interviews with the participating bands will be progressively added on eRenlai.com

Join the eRenlai Facebook group to be kept posted on our activities.

Cerise Phiv (張俐紫)

Former Managing Editor of eRenlai.com


Tweets @cerisefive

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