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Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: music
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 13:47

Knocking on the door of Taiwan's entertainment industry

This is the first vlog in a series in which Daniel Pagan Murphy talks about his quest for Mandopop fame, in which he documents his experience singing on TV shows in Taiwan, as well as going over the highs and lows and offering some tips to people who aspire to break into the entertainment industry.

You can follow Daniel's progress on his facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DanielLiLiDaNian

On youtube: http://www.youtube.com/dannypamu

Or on twitter: https://twitter.com/dannypamu

Photo: Daniel (right) with fellow wannabe Mandopop star Justin (left) 

Monday, 31 December 2012 15:57

My journey of composition

Bust of Becquer. Photo by Ana Rey


¿Qué es poesía? -dices mientras clavas
en mi pupila tu pupila azul.
¿Qué es poesía? ¿Y tú me lo preguntas?
Poesía... eres tú.

These four simple lines are considered by many people to be some of the most famous and beautiful in the history of Spanish literature. Written by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, a Romantic poet of 19th century Spain, they roughly translate as:

Published in
Focus: Poetry and Song

Friday, 19 October 2012 20:01

Writings that Weave Waves: East Formosans and the Pacific

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East Formosa has been the departure point of the great migration that, six thousand years ago, shaped the present Austronesian world. And it is now home to the majority of Taiwan’s aboriginal population, some of them living in the plains and on the shore of Eastern Taiwan, and some in the mountains. The geography of Taiwan explains in part the diversity of its traditions and of its relationship with the Pacific world: In the central regions of Taiwan, the Mountain Range stretches from North to South with more than one hundred peaks rising over three thousand meters.  Further east, the smaller Coastal Mountain Range divides the remaining land into two parts, one located between the two mountain ranges, and the other directly facing the Pacific Ocean.

This documentary shows how aborigines in Taiwan, especially the younger generation, express and live their identity, while linking their narrative to the world of Oceania, which their ancestors contributed to develop, and where aboriginal people nowadays struggle to express their cultural, social, political and spiritual self-perception. In short, it is about the flow and exchange of experiences and stories (the ever-changing narrative weaved by the waves of the Ocean) that enrich and mix into one our local and global identities.  The Oceanic continent both separates and gathers together the people who inhabit it.

For the Pacific Ocean is not only a physical entity but a “storied” space as well: its immensity and the experience of crossing it have inspired in-depth stories, myths, poems, music and epics; its borders and islands have witnessed the rise and fall of cultural and spiritual traditions breaking along its shore, wave after wave.

Taiwan is a point of departure, a meeting point, and a destination for the stories weaved by the waves. This documentary aims at nurturing in Taiwan’s youth, especially in its indigenous youth, a sense of belonging within the Pacific world, while encouraging their creativity, their appreciation of the variety of the cultural resources offered by other Austronesian people, and its perception of the “resonance” that related stories, music and art forms inspire throughout this oceanic interchange.

Thus the filming of this documentary really started in Vancouver Island, Canada where some of our protagonists met with First Nations during a cultural exchange where both groups performed their traditional dances and songs. Then we get a glimpse of the way aboriginal traditions are preserved and transmitted in villages on the eastern coast of Taiwan and we travel through the Melanesian and Polynesian world with scenes and stories filmed during the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, this year.

Director: Cerise Phiv 
Co-director:  Benoit Vermander
Image: Cerise Phiv, Amandine Dubois, Yubax Hayung, Wilang Watah, Takun Neka
Editing: Cerise Phiv,Amandine Dubois

Languages: Chinese, English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Watch the trailer here

Readers in China can watch it here

The Premiere will take place at the National Central Library in Taipei on Tuesday November 27th at 5pm as part of the International Conference organized by the Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies. You can join the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/129160723900797/

Or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. directly!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:47

Ordering Poetry at KTV

How do we measure the distance between poetry and ourselves?

It’s not thousands of miles away at the bottom of the Ocean, it’s also not in a star a few light years away. By simply strolling into a KTV we can find vestiges of poetry. By simply humming along to a song, we can fill our heart with poetic feeling, and slowly wash away the dust of time.

Published in
Focus: Poetry and Song

Tuesday, 04 September 2012 15:35

The Muses Hide in Melodies

Translated from the Chinese by Conor Stuart

Everyone, whether to a greater extent or a lesser, has a few melodies or a few lines of poetry which come to mind easily, without a deliberate effort to chase them out; they slip out at just the right moment, nurturing us.

A poem or a song, in context, can become a lover, or a confidante, you understand them, they understand you, and nothing can come between you.

Six lovers of poetry, six songs each with its own story, each revealing a different aspect of life. Then, may we think, is poetry so much farther removed from our laughter or our tears than song?

Published in
Focus: Poetry and Song

Friday, 27 April 2012 18:14

White Eyes: Overcoming Gender Stereotypes in the Rock Scene

The controversial lead singer of 'White Eyes' (from the Chinese meaning someone who doesn't respect the other people's face), Gao Xiao-Gao talked to eRenlai about her experiences touring in Texas, U.S. as well as discussing her resistance to the certain monikers pressed on her by the Taiwanese media, like 'girl group', as well as the demand by audiences for her to stick to the 'screaming banshee' style which she started out with:

Photo courtesy of The White Eyes

The White Eyes are performing at Zhizou Cafe in Taipei on Saturday May 12. More info soon.


A song "Dead Boy" by The White Eyes

The White Eyes 白目樂隊:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012 15:57

The Oceanic Feeling

All marine ecosystems are in constant flux, affected by external influences and short-term disruptions as well as by seasonal cycles. Those who live within an oceanic environment necessarily see the world in a different way from those who dwell in the plains, highlands or mountains. Sudden and unexpected changes foster the representation of distant divine beings whose behavior is unpredictable; the sense of uncertainty generated by the environment encourages flexible strategies, rather than linear thinking. Nowhere is this truer than in the Pacific Ocean, which covers a surface larger than the one occupied by all land areas, and which accounts for eighty percent of the islands of the globe.

In the Pacific world, the ocean is the continent: the sea constitutes the natural environment for all forms of life, it is also the vector of communication... A writer from Tonga, Epeli Hau'ofa (1939-2009) has spoken of a "sea of islands', a sea that unites rather than divides, a sea that is a lived story: for the ocean moves and breathes in those born on its banks like the salt in the sea and the blood within the body. The immense ocean also dwells within the narrow limits of a human body, allowing man to travel into himself in the same way he embarks for finding other islanders.

All this may remind us of what the writer Romain Rolland called, in his correspondence with Freud, the"Oceanic feeling.” Through this expression he was trying to encapsulate a feeling of infinity that goes beyond all structured religious belief. Nowadays, Romain Rolland’s “Oceanic feeling” has become little more than a footnote in the history of religious psychology. Freud was not very appreciative:  "How foreign to me are the worlds in which you move! Mystique is as closed to me as music” he wrote to Rolland – who replied, "I can hardly believe that mysticism and music are foreign to you. I rather think that you are afraid of them, as you wish to keep the instrument of critical reason unblemished.”

Going a step beyond Romain Rolland, one may say that the presence of God in the soul is like the triumphant sound of the waves - and this “like” means two things at once: first, it speaks of the universal nature of spiritual experience; and second, it recognizes the fact that no comparison can account for the way God makes himself present within the depths of man. What the Oceanic feeling helps us understand is that joy arises in our soul always as something nascent. The joy that comes like the light of the day within the darkness of our depths is sung and evoked by the movement of an ocean everlasting and yet nascent, by the rhythm of the waves engraving and erasing their writings on the sand with a finger trembling and yet assured. Eventually, the Oceanic feeling lets us glimpse the mystery of the birth of God within the soul: a gift eternally offered – and always new.

Illustration by Bendu

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 14:23

The Flâneur in Taiwan

Taipei-based filmmaker Pinti Zheng teams up with the members of avant-jazz project Flâneur Daguerre for this documentary exploring their music, their concept of "sound images," how they "wander" through musical space, and the musical life in Taipei. Includes footage from recording sessions, live shows, and interviews. (edited by Pinti Zheng with Louis Goldford)

Friday, 23 September 2011 09:59

Djembe drumming across boundaries

An interview with Karamoko Camara

“They are very surprised, when people hear Taiwan, they only hear the name, and they cannot think how I came to be here.” Karamoko, or Moko as he is familiarly known, told us how people in his own country, Guinea, responded when they heard Moko was going to Taiwan.

“But you know, music has no boundaries. Music can make two countries friends. Music can pull so many people together.” He said in a firm but passionate tone.

Karamoko Camara is a master of African drumming and dance from Guinea, in West Africa. When people hear African drums, it often brings to mind the image of a crowd of people playing drums with their bare hands in a circle. “Djembe” is the most well-known kind of West African hand drum, which is played outdoors. He lived for almost eleven years in Japan, teaching and playing African music. This made him a cultural ambassador for West Africa.

“African music is powerful; you cannot play slowly, when you are happy, you play your happiness with the sound of your drums. Some people think it is too loud but it is the tradition. Our ways are our life. When you play in a happy way you can see the audience is happy also. In the local village, we play to celebrate a birth or as part of a ceremony, such as rainmaking.” He added.

He could not be happier that his host family plays Djembe as well, since he cannot live one week without touching drums. His host father, Sun Dafu (Daouda) is not only an enthusiast of African drums but also established the “African Culture and Art Association” in Taiwan. He teaches and organizes different workshops of African music and dance around Taiwan.

Moko noticed the differences in how people in Japan and Taiwan accept African music. He thinks Taiwanese are more receptive to it. In the countryside, even if the event was held in a little restaurant, people would make the effort to come and see him perform. People in Taiwan are more open than in Japan. “If you are lucky, you can find audiences who like African music, sometimes you discover that it is not to everybody’s taste.”

Watch Moko's performance at the Homestay closing banquet

Published in
Focus: SayTaiwan

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 09:51

The Flâneur as Listener and Composer

Six years ago by sheer luck I encountered Arcade, a work of mixed media by Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu, when it passed through my hometown of St. Louis. Layer upon layer of densely packed ink drawings, each separated by a layer of clear acrylic which gave a “floating” appearance to the ink in 3D space, I was struck by the piece’s intensity and scope, by the precise detail of each drawing and especially by its combination of disparate elements to form such a dramatic and unified whole. It reminded me of the music I was studying at the time, namely Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, which in its third movement combines forces as far-reaching as Mahler and Stockhausen in a unique sort of collage.

Arcade was so affecting that I immediately embarked on a quest to understand its organizing forces, and it wasn’t long before I arrived at Walter Benjamin’s monumental Arcades Project [Passagenwerk]. Whereas Benjamin’s interest was in the rich cultural exchange at work in the covered street markets of late-19th century Paris, Mehretu’s concern with militarism, consumerism, and how they colored the geopolitical climate in the 21st century nevertheless brought her in touch with Benjamin’s theories.

Benjamin’s work largely concerns how history is preserved in our collective memory. As a musician I suspect that our perceived aggregate history of music is an arbitrary fable of progress towards the goal of growth and development. It is widely recognized that this tendency to measure everything against the narrative of progress is a common symptom of early capitalist thought. Some musicians also recognize that widespread music education and theory coincided with the rise of capitalist thought, which could explain why our history has been forced into the same didactic mold. The work of composers and musicians in the 21st century—from most stylistic spheres—has been teleologically mystifying for nearly a century itself.

Since I discovered Mehretu I’ve been working closely with some of Benjamin’s ideas in my own composing. Among others, the flâneur is a major subject of attention: one who walks the streets alone, observing culture but not participating in it.[1] Often narrating Baudelaire poems, these flâneurs were the private eyes of Parisian streets through the arcades, able to read from and infer everything about the faces of passersby. Pierre Hamp wrote that to be a flâneur was “to walk out of your front door as if you’ve just arrived from a foreign country; to discover the world in which you already live.”[2]

Boulevard du temple in Paris by Daguerre (1838)

When I came to Taiwan two years ago I was as foreign as it gets. I began playing jazz immediately and was fortunate to find five like-minded musicians with whom I’ve been playing ever since. Our band Flâneur Daguerre was my original test of Benjamin’s ideas. In FD we explore jazz and avant-garde music, contemporary classical, folk and pop alike. We work with Benjamin’s theory of dialectical images to program carefully selected music as well as originals works. These ideas have become the dominant process in my non-jazz, “concert” composing as well.

The French chemist Louis J.M. Daguerre developed his daguerrotype photographic process by accident in 1835, which went on to become the first commercially successful photograph. Benjamin wrote about these old, faded photos and their ability to arrest and capture time in a powerful new way, promising the unveiling of a true cultural history. A dialectical image is said to be a “stop” or “freeze” in the synthetic linear course of history, “dialectical” for its embodied interplay of arguments, and for its ability to convey an eternal, mythical time as an alternative to the collective, utopian fantasy of progress.[3] Both the daguerrotype and the dialectical image are visual modes of capturing history and shaping our collective memory.

Music enters the dialectical image by way of surprising, even kitsch sounds. The act of composing is an act of listening. In the moment when you hear something that sounds funny, kitsch, or ridiculous, does this sound strike you because it doesn’t belong there? Or is this moment a rift in our perception of where sounds go?

If there is such a thing as a musical flâneur then we’ve all played that role before. We are simultaneously listener, observer, critic, musician and composer. We are all wanderers, especially through our historical epoch, when sounds from all different places and eras can be combined or juxtaposed at the drop of a hat. Wandering through musical space and time is something felt daily in both active and passive listening. The flâneur who passes through streets and infers a cultural abstraction from what s/he sees can be a listener who encounters by chance the “sound apparatus” of everyday life, including noises and sound sources apart from purely “musical” ones. Along the way there are glimpses of truth; moments we were taught not to believe in or “hear” but which reveal aesthetic pleasure on a personal and collective scale.

Imagine listening to something on headphones in public, it mixing with environmental sounds on the street, with the elevator music, Muzak or radio piped in at your favorite restaurant. Somehow the sounds fit together, and maybe you had a good laugh over how initially obscure it sounded. You’ve had one such moment. These everyday moments, or “images,” are like puzzle pieces once lost but rediscovered, returning an element of truth to understanding the wide spectrum of music and artistic value systems.

But how can musical works be experienced as images? One is temporal and another is singular, isolated and frozen. I use “image” because the temporal element of music combines with the specific time and place in which you as listener receive it. The aura of a musical entity can be felt statically, illuminating the conditions from which the work emerged and in which it is experienced. This static aura is missing from an objective approach to a true distinction between idioms of style and era, and therefore how we value our art. Its limits can be felt at the worn edges of a photograph and at the edges of musical time.

When I hear something that strikes me in this way, whether a preexisting work or some chance combination of sounds, I hear sound reaching beyond its own borders. Like peering through a window into another reality, this sound does not feel like it begins at the moment of attack nor ends at the moment of release. You get the feeling that more is there, waiting. You follow a photograph to any of its edges, but a dialectical image is one in which you feel the image stretch beyond its borders, as if you could climb through the frame of Hooper’s Nighthawks and walk the rest of that dark, barren street.

In The Work of Art In the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, Benjamin describes what he calls “the apparatus” confronting the viewer of a film.[4] This apparatus includes the camera and all of the production behind it, designed to capture a synthetic scenery for film. Returning authenticity to everyday life, dialectical images provide the chance to climb through that apparatus into the reality of what is in front of the camera—or the microphone.

Our images are combined in a constellation of time’s passing; often of history’s “trash,” the noises of culture, lifted from their “embeddedness” and reconstructed into a new montage, or collage. The inherent tension among neighboring fragments reveals a new interpretation of time and collective memory.[5]

At one of our earliest gigs, the members of FD discussed this condition of the flâneur as observer, voyeur, and each of us relates to it on possibly multiple levels. Those of us who are foreigners certainly are confronted immediately with its effects, but so do our Taiwanese members. For me, I make this condition the focus of my written music. In compositions for FD, I look for relationships among styles or idioms. For example, in my piece Chase Music Without a Scene, I focus on the 1970s “chase” film genre and treated the music found in those movies as its own genre, related to but separate from jazz or spy music. Truthfully this music is easily recognizable but “off-the-map;” you’d never read about its “era” in any jazz history textbook.

In my non-FD works, I work with collage forms, idiomatic sounds and musical “gestures” found on specific instruments. In 地獄的錢 Di Yu de Qian ("Hell Money") for piano solo, I worked with quotations of pieces that involve idiomatic piano sounds—those which clearly evoke the characteristic sound of the piano in various genres of piano music. These fragments were combined, restructured and worked into their own short, mobile compositions which were then juxtaposed based on how I could make the whole piece flow and how I could make each fragment flow from one to the next, as if in and out of a canvas, from one dream into another.

The journey of the flâneur, and the use of dialectical images in sound provide an open framework to explore and describe how others have heard and composed for almost 100 years. The story of music as the development from crude fossils of tonality and form—which flourished all the way through the 19th century and broke down in the 21st century—does not give much attention to epochs of music outside mainstream Europe and the Americas, nor to the changes in modes of listening and production which drastically changed aesthetic expectations over the last century. Writing, listening, and playing music this way has also been a personal journey that continually promises new gifts and discoveries. It has opened up my ears and given me an awareness I never could have imagined.

[1] http://www.thelemming.com/lemming/dissertation-web/home/flaneur.html

[2] Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, trans. Eiland & McLaughlin. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2002, p. 435.

[3] Pensky, Max. “Method and Time: Benjamin’s Dialectical Images,” in The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 177-198.

[4] Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media, ed. Jennings, Dougherty, and Levin. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2008, pp. 14-30.

[5] Pensky, pp. 185-187.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011 17:58

Flâneur Daguerre: An Alternative to Modern Jazz

Formed in June 2009, the group brings together some of the island's finest improvisers from diverse musical backgrounds, both foreign and Taiwanese. Flâneur Daguerre was founded on the belief that modern music, especially that which is so-called "avant-garde," can be enjoyed and accessed by the same audiences that find comfort in today's mainstream pop. The band explores free jazz, Eastern European and Balkan music, but they often subject pop and rock + roll forms to the improvising methods of jazz and Indian musicians.

Friday, 24 June 2011 11:04

Sombreros, Sandals and Smiles

A Summer of music with Renlai

Accompanying the release of Renlai's World Music CD compilation, we bring you a summer of live music in Taipei, holding three concerts on July 9th, August 19th and September 16th. Each concert brings you authentic flavours and fusions from around the World, and all completely FREE GRATIS!! So bring your sombreros, sandals and a smile as you dance with us to the rhythm of Renlai.

Published in
Renlai Music

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