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Last Updated: Friday, 26 December, 2003, 03:10 GMT
Choirs of the world: Malan people
BBC World Service's World Today programme is looking at five different choirs and five different musical communities - all united by a common goal of maintaining or reviving their respective traditions and making these relevant to the present.

Malan choir
The villagers were involved in a lawsuit with the German group Enigma

The village of Malan, on Taiwan's east coast, is literally a singing village.

The local aboriginals, the Amis, have songs for every aspect of life -birth, growing up, weddings, and death.

The music is so renowned because of its distinctive fuyin - gospel - style.

"We don't have the term 'music'," villager Hoki Luo told BBC World Service's The World Today programme.

"Your so-called music is our everyday way of life."


The music of Malan came to the world's attention in 1996 when the Elder's Drinking Song - by the legendary singer Difang - was chosen as the theme for that years' Olympic games in Atlanta.

The success alerted Difang's record label to a previous alleged breach of copyright by German pop group Enigma.

The ensuing lawsuit threw the village and its singers into the harsh commercial world of music production - something completely alien to the tribe until a few years ago.

"In previous times, Amis tribes were a society where we shared everything," Mr Luo said.

"Industrialisation brings individualism and privatisation - everyone wants their own assets.

"In the past we didn't have our own possessions."

The tribe was virtually left untouched for a long time, although now the younger members have gone into the cities.

Most find work in construction, or manual labour.

"Older people, normally over 50, tend to stay at home and engage in agriculture," Mr Luo added.

"Not only Amis people, but most aboriginal life is like this."

But despite the dwindling numbers of rural Amis, the singers have hopes of becoming famous worldwide.

"I wish we can have more exchange between the two worlds," Mr Luo said.

"If ever you have time, you can send us an invitation, to support us.

"We do not only exist in Taiwan, we want to be international."

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