Taiwanese music and mind

C. C. Hung, Y. K. Tu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Taiwanese music partially reflects Chinese tradition and is characterized by elegant styles and sweet and sometimes sad melodies. 'Typical' Taiwanese songs are based on the five-note scale consisting of do, re, mi, sol and la. Vocal music is emphasized here because it represents two of the most important brain functions: language and music. The earliest type of Taiwanese music, best represented by aboriginal songs, is characterized by naivete. The songs are usually unaccompanied by instrumental music, and their expression unrestrained and sometimes powerful. Under the oppression of imperialism and militarism, it was by means of songs containing poems with touching pathos that the pessimism, despair and suppressed anger of the Taiwanese people were expressed. Shortly after World War II, confusion and poverty prevailed, and the songs in this period showed implicitly the struggles of Taiwanese and their strong determination and incessant efforts toward prosperity. Following a short decline, Taiwanese music has recently been reanimated. The expression this time is more explicit, showing a keen desire, supported by courage, for a better future. Taiwanese, with the exception of aboriginal dialects, is one of the most typical tone languages. The close similarity of conversational tone to the melody of a song very often observed in this language would suggest that both cerebral hemispheres are involved in execution of melodies as well as in practice of daily Taiwanese conversation. Although foreign music may help improve the quality of Taiwanese music, it seems more important at this stage to preserve and develop its native characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-214
Number of pages5
JournalActa Neurologica Taiwanica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-note musical scale
  • Dominant cerebral hemisphere
  • Taiwanese music

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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