Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 13 News List

A Moving Sound gathers monentum

Their first album generated a local buzz, but Scott Prairie and Mia Hsieh have even higher hopes for their second World Music release, `Songs Beyond Words'

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Moving Sound's Mia Hsieh says her singing is a combination of the ancient and avant-garde.


After the success of its first full-length album, Pacu’s Trip, an eclectic mix of African drumming, Middle Eastern melodies, Aboriginal sounds and a little cabaret — which the Taipei Times called one of the top 10 local albums of 2004 — A Moving Sound is set to release its second CD, Songs Beyond Words, at Harris Conference Hall (寶環國際會議廳) tomorrow at 7:30pm.

The brainchild of Scott Prairie and Mia Hsieh (謝韻雅) — collaborators in music as well as life — Songs Beyond Words has seen the duo take their oeuvre in a different, more serious direction.

“There is definitely a choice to become more Asian. The first CD was more diverse in exploring different idioms, [where] the energy was free and joyful,” Hsieh said.

This album is a guide to that journey. Hsieh said the pair used “the range of things … you find in Taiwan, which could be Aboriginal, nanguan or instruments … influenced by the kuching, an ancient stringed instrument that is used for meditation.”

With its roots flowing back to the Tang Dynasty, nanguan or “southern pipe” is a traditional musical genre originating from China’s Fujian Province. It features singing that is delicate and flowing and music from specially made string instruments.

The kuchin is one of China’s oldest and most revered stringed instruments; its meditative character serves as a symbol of the CD’s inspiration.

“You can say [kuching and nanguan], which are originally from China, are well-preserved in Taiwan,” Hsieh said.

Since the pair have worked together in Taiwan for more than four years, a deeper exploration of local music was inevitable. For Song Beyond Words (心的航行) the couple teamed up with Grammy-nominated designer Xiao Qing-yang (蕭青陽) of Shout Design Studios to produce the album artwork.

Performance notes

What: A Moving Sound (CD release concert)

Where: Harris Conference Hall in Jhonghe Park library B1 (寶環國際會議廳 — 中和四號公園圖書館B1) 85 Chungan St, Jhonghe (中和市中安街85號)When: Tomorrow at 7:30pmCost: Tickets are NT$400 for the concert and can be purchased at the door or reserved by visiting

They also enlisted an all-star cast of musicians, including Wu Alex Wu (吳政君) on percussion, flute and erhu and Lo Tang-Hsuan (羅堂軒) who also plays the erhu, a two-stringed traditional Chinese instrument. Both are graduates of Taiwan’s Chinese Traditional Music College.

Rounding out the group is Hsieh Hua-chou (謝華洲), a well-respected musician in Taiwan’s jazz circles, who plays the zhong ruan (中阮), a Chinese guitar-like instrument that evolved from the Arabic four stringed oud. He also plays the Western guitar.

Because of their extensive training in traditional Chinese music, Prairie and Hsieh gave the musicians a considerable amount of freedom to explore their own ideas.

“The musicians composed a lot of their own solo parts. So we kind of started from different places and ended up together,” Hsieh said.

“The way it connects, the music, it comes from an internal, a very inward way of creating,” Prairie said. “Finding a big open empty place inside yourself, and letting something come out of it.”

Prairie and Hsieh pointed out that the connection to traditional Chinese musical culture is not done to create a copy of history but to offer a re-creation of a deep historical experience. When ancient instruments, ancient melodies and ancient spirits meet across time and space, “we find the same nature and the same timeless, universal expression of life.”

“We tried to focus on this musical direction. You hear it first from Taiwan’s night market, which is my impression of Taiwan’s energy. Then the songs travel to China [and through] the Tang Dynasty, to the Silk Road, to a distant time in Asia. There is a clear line there,” Hsieh said.

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