Asian Variations

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Kou Chou Ching

Kou Chou Ching (Taiwan)

Kou Chou Ching now thats a curious sort of name. A phrase that comes from the seasonal round of agriculture (spring planting, summer tending, autumn labor, winter hoarding), Chou Ching refers to the hard work of autumn harvesting. Meanwhile Kou has to do with the harvesters scythe. Together, the three words give the feeling of laborers plying their tools to bring in the harvest. Its also the attitude that we take to music. Maintaining the spirit of those who plant and tend, we wait for the time of harvest.

Kou Chou Ching started out with fishLIN and Fan Chiang. The two met at a street performance called Lyricist Park. Once competitors, they started collaborating and studied music production together. In the course of their experiments, they discovered that mixing traditional Taiwanese materials with a hip hop rhythm had a cool sort of flow. And because the two of them are passionate about homegrown Taiwanese culture, it made perfect sensetheyd start to make some real Taiwan Traditional Rap. In 2003 they formed Kou Chou Ching. From the first, they won accolades and awards. So what began as their unexpected discovery has been able to take form and grow.

In 2004, DJ j. little joined the crew. A DJ specializing in scratch, j. little uses traditional music albums as his scratch material, a first on Taiwan, and making Kou Chou Ching the first band to Scratch over Mandarin Chinese, Hoklo, and Hakka. Not long after, A-Ji joined with his suo-na (a traditional instrument thats a cross between a trumpet and an oboe), traditional winds and strings, and accordion. This way, Kou Chou Chin became even more multiplex, special, and mature.

In just two short years, Kou Chou Ching has participated in numerous contests and group performances, winning several awards; and in 2004 they were invited to perform in the Haiyan International Music Festival at Kongliaoa coveted stage for Taiwanese indie bands. So in two years Kou Chou Ching has established a name among the independent music scene in Taiwan. Many people find it a huge surprise when they hear Kou Chou Ching for the first time. Who would have thought that there was this sort of Hip Hop being made on Taiwan! This sort of surprise leads to other emotions. Kou Chou Chings songs bring laughter and provoke thought. They are portents and parody. But most importantly, Kou Chou Chings music does not forsake Taiwan, the place where the music is rooted. Every creative inspiration, big or small, comes from Taiwan.

Because Taiwan is their inspiration, Kou Chou Chings music brings together Taiwanese musical material like Beiguan and Nanguan, Taiwan Opera, Hakka Ba-yin and Mountain Songs, South Chinese Huamei Diao, Peking Opera, and Classical Chinese music. They also sample Taiwanese folk songs and oldies as creative material. The result is a sound thats unique among independent music artists on Taiwan if not the world.

Having crossed a few hurdles between 2003 and 2007, Kou Chou Ching has received the affirmation and support many notable Taiwanese musicians and music producers. Its been four short years. In the future there will be many more four years. Listen to Kou Chou Ching and you will discover that Taiwanese music isnt just heavy and traditional. It can also be lively and new.

Black Heart

What kind of world is this? What kind of life do we live?

Even as science has become increasingly advanced, our daily provisions have become less and less humane. None of the "four necessary things for life"--food, clothing, shelter, transportation--are free of darkness. Be careful: even the water you drink might have problems. Daily the television uncovers new scandals, causing us to worry all the more. What can we eat? What can we wear? What can we use? The conscience of businessmen has been darkened over, so that they only care about money. Since they have no conscience, they can devote themselves to making more profit and profiting more quickly. But what about health? Just think about money first, and then worry about it!

In this tune, we sample the most commonly employed tune for a genre of Taiwanese music called Admonishment Songs, "Jiang-Hu Tune." As for this tune for the past few hundred years, it has been commonly sung by itinerant singers. In Taiwanese Opera, the tune is known as "Jiang-Hu Tune" or alternatively as "Medicine Seller's Tune." A few decades ago, those in the music business fixed the lyrics and recorded it as "The Admonishment Song," by which many people in Taiwan know it today. Vocals feature our friend Hui-Ling, who employs methods from Taiwanese Opera to express in music a feeling of learning from past wounds. We hope that everyone will pay close attention to the problem of black hearted, or dangerous, consumer goods and be careful.


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