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Talk of the Day -- Sound artist spends big to capture sounds of Taiwan

2014/06/10 15:15:42

Kaohsiung-based recording artist Hsueh Yung-chi has led a simple lifestyle, just scraping by over the past 15 years as he invested some NT$10 million (US$333,440) on top-of-the-line equipment to fulfill his dream of collecting the sounds that make Taiwan unique.

The following are excerpts from a report by the United Daily News on Hsueh's commitment to sound:

In an effort to capture the most beautiful sounds of Taiwan, Hsueh traveled around the country for 15 years in search of distinct natural sounds and human voices.

He said his collection of recordings includes singing birds and chirping insects, annual street parades worshipping the goddess Matsu, the Beehive Fireworks Festival in Tainan, worship songs of Taiwan's indigenous peoples, and the calls of street ice cream peddlers.

Nearly every unique sound was recorded only after a long wait -- meaning Hsueh had to carry mosquito repellent with him every time he drove into the mountains to collect the sounds of birds and insects.

He had to endure hot days in the sun as he held his microphone still and waited, enduring the stress of keeping his arms raised for an extended period of time.

In recent years, Hsueh has focused on human voices. He remembers distinctly a member of an indigenous tribe staring with a fixed gaze at the full set of extensive recording equipment Hsueh carried while capturing the sounds of the Pastaai ceremony, a harvest festival of the Saisiyat people living in the mountain areas of northern Taiwan's Hsinchu and Miaoli Counties.

The 45-year-old Hsueh, a graduate of Chinese Culture University in Taipei, was inspired after accompanying a friend to collect 52 different cicada songs from around Taiwan. He has since become more enchanted with natural sounds, likening the croaking of a frog, the chirping of a bird, or the rippling of water to a concerto.

In the near future, he plans to travel Taiwan by rail to record the sounds made by trains running on railway tracks and announcements at different stations. (June 10, 2014)

(By Evelyn Kao)