Taiwan, the Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Isle) is dependent upon the mountains and the seas, and, because of its unusual geographical surroundings and its diverse cultural history it possesses a splendid, sumptuous culture, whose music is abundant and varied; these are extremely precious treasures.
As the protector of Taiwan music, Taiwan Music Institute, by means of conservation, research and the encouragement of creativity, promotes education and resource sharing. In so doing, it perpetuates the pulse of Taiwan music and presents the beauty of Taiwan music.
"It cannot be denied that the impulse to begin folk song research … is attributable to the awakening of national feeling."
-Béla Bartók, Hungarian musician
Taiwan, starting from a geographical name, undergoing the refinement of the passage of time, just like a specialist term that has already become a culture. From the earliest of times on the island, aboriginal music blossomed everywhere. The calls of the wild reverberated around the mountains and forests.
Through the Folksong Collection Movement of the 1970s, searching one step at a time, our predecessors were able to hear the resonant sounds of our homelands. The musical culture of Hoklo and Hakka opera, etc., floated across the seas with our ancestors, and put down roots here, all over the island. These beautiful strains are the precious legacy of our ancestors, the essence of Taiwan culture and important elements that connect the folk music of the world.
"Do we need our own music?" - Shih Wei-liang, Taiwan composer.
- Shih Wei-liang, Taiwan composer.
The raising of this question in the musical world created the important opportunity for the Taiwan Music Institute to become the protector of Taiwan music!
The institute was founded in preparatory form as the "Center of Musical Heritage" under the Council for Cultural Affairs (precursor to the Ministry of Culture) in 1990. In 2002, it was incorporated into the National Center for Traditional Arts as a dispatch unit and designated the Research Institute of Musical Heritage. In 2008, in line with a further, more comprehensive amalgamation, its name was changed to Taiwan Music Center. In May 2012, with the founding of the Ministry of Culture, its name was changed once again to Taiwan Music Institute. We could say that the pursuit of Taiwan music starts from here.
Taiwan Music Institute shoulders the mission of protector of Taiwan music. In order to manage the musical fiefdom of Taiwan, it searches, collects, ferments and returns: Four skills with which to present its abilities and tasks.
In 1967, Chen Da and Hengchun Folksongs were what Hsu Tsang-houei was seeking, to enable Taiwan to find the roots of folk music. In 2006, on the centenary of Chen Da's birth, a re-cut of Last Voice of the Hengchun Peninsular: Chen Da the troubadour became an important imprint of musical history. In 2012, Zhang Ri-gui, another Hengchun folksong singer over the age of 80, in the folksongs recorded and passed down with the publication of The Singing Art and Life of Zhang Ri-gui–Famous Singer from Manzhou, Hengchun Peninsular, commented on and explained some rich historical content. Just as in the past we constantly searched and researched, enabling such precious musical assets as the hip hop of Yang Xiu-qing, the blowing and bowing, singing and playing of Chen Kuan-hua, the zither of the Bunun tribe, the Jew's harp of the Atayal tribe, the nose flute of the Paiwan tribe, to pursue investigations of the origin of this art of teaching and learning.
The purpose of collecting is to preserve the fruits of the step-by-step research surveys of our predecessors and establish specialist musical archives, combining actual original versions and establishing cloud-sharing databases. There are song board records of Beiguan performer Zhuang Jin-cai, and living history and recordings of Nanguan performer Cai Tian-mu. There are also such facilities as the Online Database of Taiwanese Musicians and the Taiwan Music Information Exchange Platform Database, which enable exploration of the main forms of ethnic music, etc., including audio and video data about the literature and history of Asia-Pacific and world music, enabling the public to embrace the sounds of the world.
In order to establish a network of talent and pass on music techniques, the Sizhu Music Composition Camp, Apprentices of Master and Partners Program, and Traditional Music Composition Contest are organized to discover and match new generations of composers and musicians. Through Taiwan Music Institute’s rich collections, the new blood is made, like delicious fruit that has reached perfection, fermenting into a fine wine the catalyzed essence of skill and time.
Beautiful folk songs born of the nurture of the mountains and seas are the imprint of Taiwan's voice, accompanying passing time, substantive even as they look ahead. Taiwan Music Institute not only preserves fine memories of Taiwan music, but is also a window on the development and promotion of Taiwan music. Through such diversely themed exhibits and lecture courses as the Formosa Song and Ritual Festival, A Tribute to Hsu Chang-hui and his epoch – Exhibition of Hsu Chang-hui's legacy, A Retrospective on Studies of Taiwanese Traditional Music, and Manuscripts of Taiwanese Composers, it constantly conducts projects such as the creation of Taiwan music with native features and the publication of musician albums and music scores to present Taiwan music systematically.
"All composers in history have taken their own folk culture as a foundation, and then innovated, and established their own artistic life."
- Hsu Chang-hui, Taiwan composer.
Traditional culture and modern art have been mutually dependent, living together and thriving together. For this reason we preserve tradition as a facilitator of innovation, and combine it with the present in the hope of creating more possibilities. In the future, Taiwan Music Institute will continue, through reconstruction of Taiwan music history, transnational collaboration, dialogue on artistic platforms, international cultural exchanges, link of cultural memory tank, and formation of the platform of value-added application, to enable Taiwan music to stand upon yet broader visions and higher ground, to blend with richly colorful elements, and enable contemporary art to absorb the essence of our predecessors, to enable Taiwan music to start from here to be passed on to anywhere.