Before the expectant eyes of music academics, the Research Institute of Musical Heritage (
The country's first archive devoted to ethnomusicology, a relatively new field of musical study in Taiwan and worldwide, appeared to be in a half-finished state despite having taken 13 years to build. There has been criticism that the archive is lacking in research articles and ethnic music publications and was opened ahead of time for political reasons.
The Ethnic Music Archive includes folk music, operas, dance music, religious and contemporary music from around the world, with a focus on ethnic music from Taiwan. Its two-story, 200-ping space is divided into a reading room, audio-visual room, research room and a open-shelf library. It also holds performances and seminars on weekends. Lifetime membership costs NT$100 and allows anyone access to its digital and open-shelf collections.
The setting up of the archive was a long tortuous process. In its original plan, broached by late musicologist Hsu Chang-huei (
Around the same time, the government's financial situation made such a large project unfeasible. In 2000, the new administration adjusted the country's cultural policies toward strengthening "cultural software" instead of hardware, so that the CCA combined the institute with the existing National Traditional Arts Center (
The archive has also been condensed into the less than 200-ping space of a former office building, on loan from the Council of Agriculture, to save construction cost. Its original functions of gathering, researching, and displaying ethnic music materials, remain unchanged.
Despite the long delay, the archive's opening is still a positive development in ethnic music research, said Lin Huei-kuan (
Although many in the music field are happy to see the archive finally materialized, it's not without its critics. On Nov. 3, five days after its opening, a Chinese-language daily reported that the archive's digital collection could not be accessed and its printed collection consists only of second-hand materials, all of which are available on the market. The archive, it reported, may have been opened prematurely, for political reasons.
Since the news came out, Hu Wei-chiao (