Reviving musical indigeneity : institutionalization, transmission, and revival of Taiwan’s aboriginal music




Hsu, Chia-Hao

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This dissertation studies the revival of Taiwan’s Aboriginal music motivated by the emergence of a strong Aboriginal consciousness during the last three decades. This revivalism has been stimulated in part by government initiatives to foster diversity in the national arts, by the changing economies of Aboriginal musical performance, and by the Aboriginal communities’ emerging commitment to musical-cultural preservation. Instead of framing revival as a mere counterhegemonic move of returning to an “authentic tradition” with a long history, this research argues that Aboriginal music revival is a contemporary phenomenon of constructing or reimagining the musical past enacted in discursive, performative, and institutional efforts. By emphasizing the articulation of musical indigeneity, this dissertation teases out the processes and multiple ways practitioners respond to the state and engage in the specific aspects of revived music in relation to their adaptations, interpretations, and cultural choices. My dissertation links the study of Aboriginal music revival to recent literature related to affect, critical organology, and language revitalization, focusing on several essential phenomena of Aboriginal music revival: (1) the institutionalization and the state’s heritage projects of Paiwan nose flutes (lalingedan) and mouth flutes (pakulalu) that have reinforced a particular thoughtful sorrow as a core aesthetic symbol of the Paiwan; (2) the craftsmanship of Paiwan flute making and playing that are central to the transformation of the Paiwan soundscape and changing state’s heritage projects, and; (3) the emerging movement of Aboriginal mother-tongue songwriting that participated in a wider revalorization of the “local” in Taiwan’s music industry, with a particular focus on Paiwan songwriters. Through a close examination of affective, material, and vocal dimensions of Aboriginal Paiwan music, this study aims to provide an alternative mode to reexamine the naturalized connections to the ancient past and bounded reification of identities occurring in music revival. I argue that the examination of these dimensions of music contributes to the understanding of diverse manifestations of Aboriginal music and how certain aspects of local musical practices attain new importance as core values for revival.



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