Where the Songs Begin
In the Paiwan language, valjungkis is the smallest unit water can be divided into. When you quietly stand in front of a waterfall, your hair and skin being slowly wetted by valjungkis, you will feel a carefree happiness permeate you. Paiwan songs are like these little molecules of water. When you stand in front of the waterfall of songs, or even if you look at it from a distance, you can hear the beauty created when the water molecules come together. Softly, before you know it, they enter your hair and skin, your consciousness, and your awareness, taking you down a tunnel through time and space, where with every passing minute the culture sung about in the songs permeates more deeply into you. In the area between North Dawu and South Dawu Mountain is a waterfall of Paiwan songs. It's the source of life, the originating point of the stories, melodies and lyrics of many songs. Life and songs both began here; valjungkis shaped the Paiwan people day and night. However, for six decades, traditional Paiwan songs had been neglected. None of the people in the local villages from age ten up to age sixty-five could sing any of their songs in their entirety. Only after 2005, when the recently graduated Camake was assigned to Taiwu Elementary School as a teacher, did the songs start to be sung again. The group grew from five children to thirteen children aged 10 to 15. After exhaustive field research, the children learned the songs through oral transmission word by word and note by note, practicing them over and over, until they transcended time and space to arrive at the waterfall where their ancestors had stood, returning to the place where the molecules of water and song could seep inside them. The beautiful melodies and language of the ancient songs let the old folks of the villages feel as if they were singing with their own vuvu (grandparents), shedding tears of joy in the midst of their recollections and nostalgia. Sincere, natural sounds and a love of singing helped these villages that suffered from Typhoon Morakot restore their spirits and rebuild the broken bridge by which their people's inheritance was passed down from generation to generation. The songs need to be sung to bring the ancestral spirits to the people's sides, to return to the waterfall on the sacred mountain, and to once more be permeated by valjungkis. The Taiwu Elementary Folk Song Singers. They sing their people's songs in the name of their villages. They tell their own stories in the name of music. The Taiwu Elementary Folk Singers Taiwu Elementary School, located in Taiwu Township in Pingdong County, is the closest elementary school in the county to North Dawu Mountain, the sacred mountain of the Paiwan people. The school has only 60 students, who come from the villages of Taiwu and Jiaxing, which have developed wood carving and folk song art. The Paiwan people use singing to express a lot of their feelings about life. There are stories in their singing, and there is singing in their stories. With the help of the instruction of the elders of the community, the children's singing has allowed the local people to once more appreciate the flavor of traditional songs. After decades of waiting, they can again sing their own songs, speak their own language, and carve out the stories of their ancestors. History of the Taiwu Elementary School Folk Singers 2006 Recorded traditional music album Singing a Beautiful Song, which was nominated for the Best Aboriginal Music Album award at the Golden Melody Awards Performed on the album Indigenous Hearts: A Musical Dreamland, which was nominated for four awards in the Traditional Music category at the Golden Melody Awards The folk singing group was formally set up 2009/06 Toured and performed in Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Germany 2010/06 Performed at a concert by the British vocal ensemble the King's Singers 2011/02 Performed on Japanese national public broadcaster NHK's program Amazing Voice, where they were voted fourth best by listeners CD1 Genre-Crossing Music CD2 Ancient Melodies Sung A Cappella.