MORE: David Darling & The Wulu Bunun - Mudanin Kata (2004) 01. Ku-Itsa Tama Laug (Weaving Song) 02. Lugu Lugu Kan-Ibi (Diligent Child) Lead singer: Chiu-yu Hu 03. Mudanin Kata (The Jorney Home) Lead singer: Guo-liang Yu 04. Manas Kala Muampuk (Joy Tonight) Lead singer: Chun-yu Chiu 05. Malas Tapag (Celebration) Lead singer: Chia-ching Yu 06. Wulu Dream Composed and performed by David Darling 07. Macilumah (Song For Concluding Work) Lead singers: Guo-liang Yu, Guo-hsiung Yu, Chin-long Yu 08. Pasibutbut (Prayer For A Rich Miller Harvest) 09. Mataisah-hik Sagan (My Dream Last Night) Lead singer: Chun-yu Chiu 10. Wulu Mist Composed and performed by David Darling Deducated to Jin-niang Hu 11. Bunun Tuza (The Bubun People) Lyrics and songs: Chin-hu Yu Lead singer: Guo-liang Yu 12. Sima Cisbug Bav (Who Is Shooting On The Mountaintop?) Lead singer: Chin-niang Hu 13. Malkakiv Malvanis (Song Of The Trap) Lead singer: Guo-liang Yu 14. Wulu Sky Composed and performed by David Darling 15. Pis Lai (Song Of Prayer For Rifles) Lead singer: Chin-lung Yu
Mudanin Kata unites singers from the Wulu Bunun people of Taiwan with the sumptuous sounds of cello pioneer David Darling, to create a striking reinterpretation of an ancient tradition. David Darling Ц a Grammy nominated and classical trained cellist Ц creates his own place within the distinctive eight-part harmonic singing of the Wulu Bunun. Interwoven around a range of singing styles, he melds his unique style of playing to produce an album of intricate and beautiful sounds.
THE PRODUCERТS NOTES Ц THE STORY BEHIND THE ALBUMЕIn the autumn of 2000, I travelled with musicians David Darling, Ketil Bjornstad and others, to a tiny elementary school in Wulu. That was the first time I was able to hear in person the Bunun peopleТs sacred song, СPasibutbutТ.
A group of Bunun men formed a circle, with their arms around each otherТs shoulders and their heads held high with solemn expressions on their faces. They stepped and swayed as they lifted their voices in song. At first, the singing began with a low humming suggestive of a swarm of bees, and from there it gradually began to climb. The ascending tonal scales rose between half- and third-note tones, within a tight harmonic structure. The low, middle and high notes worked together, complementing and filling in for one another. At the conclusion, the singersТ voices came together to form a powerful sound as vast as the mountains that surrounded the singers. As I sat there in that village tucked deep in the mountains of southeastern Taiwan, listening to this ancient style of singing with a complexity and intricacy akin to modern music, I began to think about our plans for the recording.
There appeared in my mind an image of David playing the cello, surrounded by the Bunun people. My thinking was simple. First, the music of the cello is closer to the sound of the human voice than that of any other Western instrument. And second, with DavidТs unique style of playing the cello, I was sure that he would be able to meld with the BununТs singing, find his place in their music, and create a new sort of musical integrity.
From the beginning, I had no intention of using ethnomusicological field recordings as a starting point. Furthermore, I was unwilling simply to sample aboriginal music, and bring it into the studio for remixing. Rather, I wanted to enable a true exchange to take place between musicians from the East and the West, thereby offering to the world a new perspective from which to interpret the music of TaiwanТs indigenous people.
Ten days before recording was due to begin, I rushed from London back to Taitung. Even in the thick heat of May, Wulu greeted me with a leisurely air. At nightfall, I joined the villagers in the courtyard in front of the village chiefТs house, and played for them DavidТs arrangement demo. I looked around and saw a combination of bemusement and surprise on their faces. It was the first time for this group of people (who are used to singing a cappella) to hear their voices accompanied by an instrument. There was a mild uneasiness in the air, but once David arrived this uneasiness vanished. Every day the recordings took on a party-like atmosphere, with the Bunun villagers drinking millet wine as they sang their songs for David. For these people, a difference in language proved to be no barrier to communication.
We chose to do the recording in a valley, far away from the village, as this would enable us to reduce outside interference and take full advantage of the natural sounds of the surroundings. Aside from cornfields and a small wooden hut, the only thing visible in the distance was an endless stretch of mountains and a blue sky dotted with white clouds. We set up a microphone in the shade of a tree, and the sounds of the birds and insects that accompanied us from dawn until well through the afternoon became part of the music. We recorded all of the singing and part of the cello accompaniment in our valley recording spot, then used a forest location to record DavidТs solo. After returning to the studio in the United States, we recorded more layers of cello music until the cello was able to become an integral part of the final product Ц a vehicle of sorts to bring the voices to the other end of the universe.
I would like to thank everyone who played a part in this recording and helped make it a reality; and IТm particularly grateful for the support of the Accton Art Foundation. But in the end, the person who constantly comes to mind is Wulu Elementary SchoolТs Jin-niang Hu, who unselfishly gave her time and efforts through the entire recording process. In her long-term dedication to teaching Bunun children to speak and sing in their mother tongue, I see a certain resolve that is not uncommon among the Bunun people. And it is this resolve that has allowed the Bununs, who have lived in Taiwan for thousands of years, to pass their legends down from generation to generation and to turn these legends into folk songs. These songs contain the proud history of the Bunun Ц not only do we strive to preserve that history, but we also attempt to give this history an opportunity to ferment, to meld with other elements, and to be reborn. It is in this way that music is reinvigorated and brought to life.