Story of the Month - December 2019

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

2019年6月8日 美濃黃蝶祭在雙溪樹木園裡的音樂會,平安隆先生和樂手正在演奏雲遊的音樂 (圖片來源: 陳如珍)

Takashi Hirayasu and his band performing music from Cloud Wondering at the 2019 Meinung Yellow Butterfly Festival in Shuangsi Tropical Arboretum, Meinung, Kaohsiung, Taiwan (Photo Credit:Chen Ju-chen)


Dr. Chen Ju-chen learned from her research that most Filipinos went abroad to work with the hopes that the higher salary earned would help improve the life of their families. With better income they wish to provide their families with more material comfort and achieve higher social status. However, not everyone could have their dream come true. Dr. Chen found that there exists an obvious quandary: it is impossible for everyone to become richer and better than others. In this case, the collective aspiration for wealth and accumulation would only lead us to endless frustration. Is this avoidable? In 2014, Dr. Chen met some independent musicians when she took a group of undergraduate students from the department of anthropology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong to conduct their summer field trip in Hualian and Taitung. She was surprised that, even with successful performances, musicians often made little income or even went in debt. Even though performing could be a bad decision financially, these musicians seem to never lose their enthusiasm in putting together one show after another. Dr. Chen has been interested in why such musicians give accumulation a much lower priority.


Dr. Chen started the project about independent music community in the end of 2014.. Without much experience and appropriate networks, Dr. Chen diligently attended various live performances, gigs, and music festivals to make herself known and recognized as a member of this community. As time passes, Dr. Chen fostered good rapports with key event personnel and deepened her understand of this community. She became friends with musicians, event producers, venue managers, sound designers, lighting designers, photographers, and other running crew. With their help, she has gradually has better understanding of how the community works. Besides, she developed a deeper understanding on the intention and lives of independent musicians through participate and work as translators, merchandise sales, prompters, etc. at these concerts and music festivals.


For Dr. Chen, independent musicians are those who have full control of their music works and could share values they believe in via music. They do not prioritize accommodating the demand of the market for their works and gigs. In the future, Dr. Chen would like to write up and explain the operation of the independent music community. Other than criticizing the intrinsic nature of capitalism, she wish that she could also carry out the ideal and aspiration of these musicians.


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