Assignment1 Blog5-Pop Taiyu (Taiwanese language) songs as postcolonial nostalgia in Taiwan

Taiwan has undergone several economic, social and changes through its cultural history, the colonial history can retrieve back to 400 years ago when Dutch and Spanish reached the island in the 17th century. Han Chinese of Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty dominated the land during 18th-20th century, then by the Empire of Japan and then R.O.C government after the world war two. Therefore, Taiwanese music reflects those issues of the history changes in their own way with a mixed style.  Taiwanese music integrates in Chinese folk culture and many indigenous tribes with their own distinct artistic identity, various styles of folk music are appreciated in Taiwan(Wikipedia).


Postcolonial research has been officially launched quite late in Taiwan; it started until the lifting of martial law (1949-1987) which was announced by the ROC government. The compose of Taiyu ge, also called Taiwanese songs, can be traced back to the 1930s (Chun,A. Rossiter, N. and Shoesmith, B. 2004).During that period of time when Japan colonial rule, there appeared the Taiwanese musician at that time such as Yang SanLang(楊三郎) and Ye Junling(葉俊麟)who had created several classic Taiwanese songs which the previous generation like my grandparents feel enjoyable to listen to. Those Taiwanese musicians can be seen as the great masters in first generation of pop Taiwanese music.

However, these Taiwanese songs were hard hit during of ROC government policies when KMT took over Taiwan after Japan government for lasted four decades. The ROC government’s propaganda promote Mandarin and declared its legitimate status for the only representative of China compared to greater Mainland China which was controlled by communist. Therefore, popular music in Taiwan also reflects this. For years, Taiwanese pop songs were repressed despite there were some mixed-blood songs which used Japanese pop songs but filled in Taiwanese lyrics during 1950s to 1960s, and then were almost forced underground eventually until 1990s(Chun,A. Rossiter, N. and Shoesmith, B. 2004).

Nowadays, Taiwanese pop fell into two distinct categories Taiwanese pop was sung in a native dialect and was popular among older and working-class listeners; it was strongly influenced by Japanese enka. On the other hand, Mandarin pop, due to the assimilation policy of the authoritarian Kuomintang regime (1945-1996) that suppressed Taiwanese languages and culture, appealed to younger listeners.


The music texts and the elements of music that artists created are influence by the development of the society. The music and national identity of Taiwan has also been closely related. On account of the controversy and confusion of national identity between the name of states “China” and “Taiwan”, the development of music production can be discussed in the context of national identity.

The energetic power of nostalgia phenomena boost after the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) became the leadership of the government, which emphasize the local art, local ideology instead of the great China concepts. Local Taiwanese, once taught to embrace “Chineseness”, have begun to state their own, local culture identity. •Numerous stars who once made their names as Mandarin singers are nowadays switching to recording in Taiwanese. The increased presence of the Taiwanese language in the electronic media, and the popular music which makes use of it, is part of a wider social trend(Chun,A. Rossiter, N. and Shoesmith, B. 2004).

. The county government have even introduced compulsory Taiwanese language courses into school courses, and it is strongly encouraged to make music with not only in Taiwanese, it can also be the Hakka or aboriginal languages despite the Taiwanese is the majority.

To sum up, Taiwan identity has always been an important topic in the discussion of Taiwan’s cultural traditions. It is not only an abstract issue of historical discourse, but also profoundly affects the experience of the different classes of Taiwanese people. At a period when questions of historical identity are still very much at forefront of political debate in Taiwan, Popular music, even that with as little political content as the bars songs of the Taiyu ge repertoire, can now find itself at the heart of discussions about Taiwanese identity at various levels or society(Chun,A. Rossiter, N. and Shoesmith, B. 2004).



Chun,A. Rossiter, N. and Shoesmith, B.(2004). Refashioning pop music in Asia. London: RouledgeCurzon.

Music of Taiwan. Available at:

History of Taiwan. Available at:



One thought on “Assignment1 Blog5-Pop Taiyu (Taiwanese language) songs as postcolonial nostalgia in Taiwan

  1. With all the various institution that have set up or taken over in Taiwan, it is no wonder the locals felt for some time they did not have music to identify with. I can also relate to my country (Zimbabwe) was for a time in the same situation where our traditional music was shunned and stigmatised as demonic. It is interesting how Taiwan artists are slowly building confidence in restoring their national identity by singing their vernacular language, which in turn gives meaning. More so with “Numerous stars who once made their names as Mandarin singers are nowadays switching to recording in Taiwanese.” Music has the power to change situations.

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