Kala-OK Nights: Voice, Embodiment and Society at Indigenous Bunun Karaoke in Southeast Taiwan


Time: Friday 15 October, 12:15-13:45 Helsinki Time

In this talk, I focus on the regularly recurring social and musical practice of karaoke singing in an Indigenous Bunun village in southeastern Taiwan. These occasions, which take several contrasting formats, engage many villagers, involving them in the development, display, and appreciation of skill in performance, the use of diverse repertories and languages, and the building of musical an​d emotional co-presence. Music contributes to the sustaining of several kinds of cultural inheritance and personal gift, yet is also part of situations involving loss, conflict, and pain. Movement turns out to play a key role, too: karaoke events are far from being oriented around sound alone. In this presentation, I explore how sounds and actions embody the traces of others, past, present, and occasionally even future for Bunun singers and their audiences.

About the speaker:

Jonathan Stock is Professor of Music and former Head of Music and Theatre at University College Cork, Ireland, having previously served as Associate Dean for Research, University of Sydney and Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield. An ethnomusicologist specialising in the music of East Asia, he has published widely on Chinese and Taiwanese musical genres and musicians, from regional and folk traditions to popular music and long-standing classical genres. His work also embraces writings on fieldwork approaches, music analysis, music education, and applied ethnomusicology. His most recent book, Everyday Musical Life among the Indigenous Bunun, Taiwan, was published by Routledge in 2021.