Recognising Taiwan in Sight and Sound
: Localisation in the Music of Post-TNC

  • Chia-Yu Chang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis aims to identify the music of current Taiwanese films with regard to their strategies of ‘localisation’, of indicating or alluding to or playing with musical signifiers of place, time and group identity, in the contexts of Taiwanese history and culture. It may be of interest for those who want to understand Taiwanese cultural history from a perspective rarely taken in scholarship, and for those interested in film music studies, which have rarely touched upon Taiwan. This thesis looks at and listens to recent, mostly commercial films of the so- called post-TNC era, i.e. after the period of Taiwan New Cinema.
After the success of Cape No. 7 (2008) in the domestic market, the Taiwanese film industry has gained more confidence in producing films that articulate lives and issues shared by people on the island – films that establish shumin space1 in film. Music shares that tendency and often adopts music with a local connection – T-pop (Taiwanese popular music)2, historical songs, and elements from different traditions such as indigenous music and pan-Chinese sounds. The different ways of dealing with (and often localising) global musics, such as western-style pop-rock or the typical ‘triplets rhythm’3 derived from Japan, will also be discussed. This study analyses how such musical choices can function in concert with and as a source of information or intensification of film scenes and images, in counterpoint to them or as a background, to understand how music can be used to place audiences into a range of relationships to what a film shows. This study also asks how music that stresses the local identity of Taiwanese films may nevertheless be able to survive in a global market.
Date of Award23 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorJacqueline Maingard (Supervisor) & Guido Heldt (Supervisor)


  • Film Music
  • Taiwan

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