Taiwanese ethnomusicologist Wu Jung-shuen (吳榮順) lectured on the development of Taiwanese folklore music at an Aug. 17 salon talk of the "Tea Philo" series at the Shaw Parade in Kuala Lumpur, attracting many local professionals and students.
Specializing in Austronesian, Hakka, and indigenous music, Wu currently works as director of the National Center for Traditional Arts and a professor at Taipei National University of the Arts’ Department of Music. He has won accolades for Best Album Producer and Best Folklore Album at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards.
During the "Tea Philo" session, Wu chanted songs of diverse ethnic groups and shared how Taiwan's pioneering research of ethnomusicology began in the 1950s and was mainly based on field studies. Later, it was combined with the research of folk science as well as anthropology as an integrated field on traditional culture, he explained.
He also noted that traditional Taiwanese music has been systematically collated and reviewed since the 1960s. However, traditional Taiwanese music did not start to flourish and develop its own system until the advent of the 20th century. In addition to doing research, it is more important to fulfill one's social responsibilities and make the best use of his or her proficiency as an ethnomusic scholar, added Wu.
Facing the impact of globalization in the digital era, the study of ethnomusicology is confronted with new issues, methods, and thinking. Instead of using a serious tone of voice, he exchanged a rather easy conversation with audience members and introduced them to a common future that Taiwan and Malaysia both face.
The collation of folk songs not only increases the visibility of different cultures but also helps promote the good virtues of local ethnic music and the inheritance of this fading, precious heritage, concluded Wu.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia stated that the next salon talk of the "Tea Philo" series will invite director CS Stone Shih (石計生) of Soochow University's Department of Sociology to share how the Taiwanese spirit is spreading in Southeast Asia through popular music and the arts.