Forgotten Voices behind the Display Glass

Formosan Musical Instruments at the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) and Historical Research in the Music of Taiwan

In the study of historical musicology it is common to use museum collections as research resources and historical evidence. Such approaches, however, are rarely adopted by scholars dealing with Taiwan's musical past. This may be due to the fact that valuable historical collections are little known to scholars in Taiwan, or perhaps due to a more general preference for the written text as the main historical source. Drawing upon the attention paid to historical instruments and museum collections by musicologists and anthropologists, this paper focuses on 26 examples of Taiwanese aboriginal musical instruments that are either displayed or held by the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford, exploring their historical backgrounds and further contextual information. The paper demonstrates how a museum's instrument collection can be used to contribute to historical research along with written sources. I argue that the unique and irreplaceable evidence of past musical practice contained in museum instruments may provide alternative angles and/or interpretations that will aid development of historical research on the music of Taiwan.

Journal Min Su Qu Yi
Year 2012
Issue 175
Pages 177-214

Tsan-huang, Tsai (2012) Forgotten Voices behind the Display Glass: Formosan Musical Instruments at the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) and Historical Research in the Music of Taiwan. In: Min Su Qu Yi: Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore, No. 175, pp. 177-214. Available at https://openmusiclibrary.org/article/107170/.

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