Identify my Taiwanese taxi lullaby
January 1, 2017 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Heading to the airport from downtown Taipei last week, our baby began to cry in his seat. Our Taiwanese taxi driver offered to put on some music. What came out of the speakers was indistinguishably a collection of children's music, opening with the most incredible, mesmeric Mandarin lullaby. I wish I had shazamed it or recorded it, but failing that: you? Definitely a longshot. What I retained of the track in question was that this single song was about 31 or 32 minutes long. It consisted of a small children's choir singing a series of (almost) single syllables, one on every beat. Mantra-like, "mu / ni / so / ba / re / ta", that kind of thing, except the only actual lyrics I can remember were "Su / lu / su / lu," which isn't exactly helpful. Instrumentation consisted of gauzey strings, bass, woodwinds and tabla-like drums.
posted by Marquis to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
You mentioned Mandarin lyrics, but could it have been this children's choir of indigenous singers. I've heard them live once and they were wonderful.
posted by wallawallasweet at 8:05 AM on January 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Oh, interesting - that does sound like it could possibly be the act (or at least the genre)... I had just assumed it was Mandarin (or Taiwanese), but of course it could be from one of the island's indigenous groups!
posted by Marquis at 8:44 AM on January 1, 2017


Is there any way you could contact the taxi company and ask? I'm thinking it's possibly part of a corporate musical selection, not just that individual cabbie's.
posted by easily confused at 9:20 AM on January 1, 2017


The single syllable-per-beat style sounds a lot like Welsh composer Karl Jenkins' Cantata Mundi (sample), but I don't know of any tracks that long.

It could also have been a children's choir singing the Da Bei Zhou (Great Compassion Mantra), which is about that long and, of course, a mantra. (Buddhist mantras to put babies to sleep! It seems stunningly obvious now.)
posted by tully_monster at 9:20 AM on January 1, 2017 [6 favorites]


Just an update: I got in touch with the taxi driver and did eventually find the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r3TA62Owp0

Turns out tully_monster was correct and it's a version of the Compassion mantra, performed by (I think) a Taiwanese choir. The driver was quite embarrassed - he felt guilty that he had played us Buddhist music without telling us. (Obviously I told him it was fine with us!)
posted by Marquis at 5:19 AM on January 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


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