Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Outdoor Musical Performances in Tainan, Taiwan

I haven't done a music related post in a long time, so I'll share some of the outdoor musical experiences I've had during the past several days in Tainan, Taiwan.  They help capture some of the diverse styles of music that can be heard across Taiwan.

For example, there was this Chinese opera being staged across from Lady Linshui's Temple ( 臨水夫人廟):

And in another part of town I stumbled upon a large group of 10-12 year olds performing traditional music as seen in this video:

Sometimes, it is the visuals accompanying the music that can be most striking.  The following video of a concert in front of a restaurant on Zunwang Road is an example of such a case:

Maybe even more than musical performances with SpongeBob SquarePants in the background, what has most caught my attention in Taiwan is that Western art music (often referred to as "classical music" -- a term to discuss another day) seems to be more infused into the culture than anywhere I've seen in Mainland China.

For example, in Tainan this past weekend there were several performances outside the historic Chikan Towers (赤崁樓):

Western art music has also impacted Taiwan's culture in a way that has been experienced by many people who live in or have visited Taiwan.  Garbage trucks will loudly play music to announce their approach and often the musical selection comes from a piece of Western art music (or is similar in style).  The trucks play the music so that people know when to bring out their garbage.  The net effect is that garbage doesn't need to be sitting outside on the streets or sidewalks.

Often the music will be electronic but in Tainan I came across a garbage truck with music that didn't sound like it came from a simple synthesizer.  Capturing a scene that to me feels somewhat like a piece of performance art, here is a video:

Where else can one be serenaded as one takes out the garbage?

There is of course more to Taiwan's musical scene then just the above and this doesn't touch on many of the more popular styles.  However, those weren't featured in any live outdoor performances I came across in Tainan.

And no garbage trucks were playing them.

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