Taiwanese Music's Global Connections

Webinar with Ying-fen Wang, National Taiwan University

Photo for Taiwanese Music
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

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This talk takes four examples from my studies on Taiwanese music to show how my orientation has broadened since 2010. Instead of focusing on Taiwan itself and its reception of influences from China and Japan as its cultural motherland and colonial fatherland respectively, I turn to explore Taiwan’s role as an actor and (co)producer in transregional and global connections in relation to the unique historical processes and geo-political position that characterize the island. The four examples include the transborder dissemination of nanguan music in the Hokkien diaspora from the Qing dynasty to the 1970s, Kurosawa Takatomo’s 1943 study of Taiwanese indigenous music and its post-1945 development, the reception of the harmonica in Taiwan under Japanese rule and its global influence through China, and the gramophone industry in colonial Taiwan and its overseas exports to South China and Southeast Asia before 1945. Through these examples, I not only echo the recent rise of the global history of music in musicology and the “global turn” of Taiwan studies but also Shu-mei Shih’s 2016 article “Theory in a Relational World,” which emphasizes the active role that a small and marginal place like Taiwan can play as “a coproducer of global processes.”

Ying-fen Wang is the founding director and Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Institute of Musicology, National Taiwan University. She received the Outstanding Research Award from Taiwan’s National Science Council in 2015. Her research interests include nanguan music and the history of music in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. Her representative works include Listening to the Colony: Kurosawa Takatomo and Wartime Survey of Taiwanese Music (1943) (in Chinese, 2008), “The Transborder Dissemination of Nanguan in the Hokkien Quadrangle before and after 1945” (2016), which won the Rulan Chao Pian Publication Prize from the Association for Chinese Music Research, and “Resounding Colonial Taiwan through Historical Recordings: Some Methodological Reflections,” which received Honorable Mention for the 2023 International Council for Traditional Music Article Prize.

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies