A Personal History with the Bunun

When I first arrived in Taiwan in 1998, I was commissioned to create an album about the island. Given the density of Taiwan’s cultural and ecological diversity, there was lots of inspiration to draw from.

During my first exploratory travels, I met an aboriginal man of the Bunun tribe named Hu Tien-guo (???). He arranged a performance of his tribe’s traditional songs, including “Pasibutbut.” I was already overwhelmed by the wealth of traditional music in Taiwan, but none was as mesmerizing as “Pasibutbut” and Mr. Hu eagerly shared his knowledge of the unusual song’s origin.

I soon realized I was not alone in my enthusiasm. Professor Wu Rong-Shun was the first music scholar I met in Taiwan, and he eagerly shared his fascination for this musical wonder. I later learned that the song had captivated ethnomusicologists since the Japanese governed the island in the last century.

Over the next decade and a half as my work with Taiwan’s cultural music continued, I gradually developed the concept for “Consonance” driven by my admiration for Bunun culture and for the song itself, and fuelled by a fascination with spatial audio and 3D sound technologies. My concept grew into a seemingly irrational passion underpinned by confidence that combining this music with proprietary 3D technology would result in an artistic music-and-sound masterpiece capable of conveying cultural and environmental values.

by Producer/Sound Designer Matthew Lien