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Apr 24 2024

Unearthing Sounds from the Archive: Joseph Lenherr’s Field Recordings of Indigenous Music of Taiwan

Father Joseph Lenherr records the traditional songs of the Amis people (白冷會林若瑟神父紀錄阿美族傳統歌謠), Bethlehem Mission Society(白冷外方傳教會). Archived by Taiwan Cultural Memory Bank at https://memory.culture.tw/Home/Detail?Id=509973&IndexCode=Culture_Object (CC BY-NC).
lectures-symposia, world-music
Room B544, Schoenberg Music Building

Lecture by Mei-Chen Chen Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles, co-author of Old Armature Music Club on Minle Street: Historical Memory of Gonglexuan

Joseph Lenherr was a missionary priest and ethnomusicologist who was also a visiting scholar at Academia Sinica Taiwan. Between February and September 1965, Lenherr conducted fieldwork in Hengchun, Taitung, and Hualien, where he recorded a variety of Indigenous music, including religious and sacred songs, children's songs, Christian songs, and working songs, as well as Han Chinese genres such as Hengchun folksong, lâm-kuán, and kua-á. The Indigenous groups he recorded included Amis (15 villages), Bunun (10), Paiwan (11), and Puyuma (4). The collection also contains music of the Rukai and Yami, copied from other individuals. However, this wealth of material lay neglected for almost sixty years and was rarely acknowledged by scholars. Thanks to the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, this collection has been recently digitized and is available for further investigation. This presentation aims to contextualize the untold story of Father Lenherr’s trajectory in Taiwan and the potential value of these recordings to the present-day Taiwanese Indigenous communities.

Mei-Chen Chen holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work focuses on historical music recordings from Taiwan, and on cultural policies and local practices related to intangible cultural heritage, particularly in relation to traditional performing arts. She is the co-author of Old Armature Music Club on Minle Street: Historical Memory of Gonglexuan (民樂街上老軒社:共樂軒歷史記憶, 2023, Taipei City government). Recent essays include “What to Preserve and How to Preserve It: Taiwan’s Action Plans for Safeguarding Traditional Performing Arts” in Resounding Taiwan: Musical Reverberations Across a Vibrant Island (2021, Routledge), and “Cultural Policy on Traditional Music and Theater” in Encyclopedia of Taiwan Studies (forthcoming, Brill). She has extensive experience working collaboratively with government agencies and local communities in cultural transmission, preservation, exhibition, and research projects in Taiwan.


Part of the Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy Colloquium Series, this event is sponsored by The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Department of Ethnomusicology and the UCLA Asia Pacific Center.

Like most of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s programs, this event is FREE! Register in advance for this event via the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.  Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Early arrival is recommended. Registrants receive priority up until 15 minutes before the event.

While Inside the Venue:

No Food or Drink allowed in the building.


This event is FREE! No RSVP required. Early arrival is recommended.


Self-service parking is available at UCLA’s Parking Structure #2 for events in Schoenberg Music Building and the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. Costs range from $4 for 1 hour to $15 for all day. Evening rates (after 4 p.m.) are $3-$5 for 1 to 2 hours and $10 for all night. Learn more about campus parking.


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is eager to provide a variety of accommodations and services for access and communications. If you would like to request accommodations, please do so 10 days in advance of the event by emailing ADA@schoolofmusic.ucla.edu or calling (310) 825-0174.


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Food and drink may not be carried into the theaters. Thank you!


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.