The interview between the special guest editor, Toshiyuki Seki, and four healing music producers, Jack Chang, Sylvia Hsu, Henrik Birk Aaboe, and Shinji Chiura.
Wind Music is known for publishing multiple award-winning records by artists such as, Sangpuy, Ilid Kaolo, Lin Sheng Xiang and so forth. Many people have noticed the label through these masterpieces, and I, myself is no exception.
Public image towards Wind Music, may be “a label focusing on traditional and ethnic music”. However, if you look into their website, you will recognize that it’s only part of it. For instance, there is a category called “Spirit” which includes genres such as, “Eastern Meditation” “Tea Leisure” or “Spa Life”. Apparently, it’s a music aimed to suit these occasions, and can call it as “healing music” or “functional music”, aimed to improve well-being.
This attributes to how CEO Ken Yang developed the company at its very early stage. One day Ken realized that Chinese religious music was showing steady sales. And he figured out that it was making people sleep better and reduce anxiety. This aha-moment has led the label to produce more music for well-being, and has become the staple of their business.
This conception seems very different from the music we know, which is generally considered as a form of art, and a way to express emotions and captivate people’s attention, inspiring them and inducing sympathy. Whereas, these “healing” music are designed, rather not to stimulate people’s emotions and harmonize with the atmosphere.
Thus, a question occurred to me: how is it produced? To find out, I have interviewed four music producers at Wind Music, specialized in creating healing music.
Jack Chang’s “Chinese Medicine Music”
Jack Chang 張永智
I met Jack Chang, at a cafe in Tainan. He was soft-spoken, genuine, and quickly created a comfortable atmosphere, encouraging me to ask anything. Jack had a multifaceted career, of first obtaining a degree for computer science, and later, master’s degree for theater arts at Taipei National University of the Arts. He has also won "Best Pop Music Performance Album" at the 16th Golden Melody Award (GMA).
Jack told me that he creates “Chinese Medicine Music”. First, it was confusing because the Chinese medicine I know is a medication consisting of organic ingredients. Some Japanese doctors prescribe it. However, Jack says the essence of it is not about medication, but an ideology of “wholeness”, believing that all things in nature are interrelated and changes from time to time.
“Qi” is one of the key figures within this theory and can be described as “vitality of living matter”. Based on these conceptions, Jack has produced “Music for Rejuvenating Qi and Blood". In this series, he aims to improve the flow of Qi within human body through music. He has also created “Energetic Sleep” series, which adopts “imagery-guided music creation method” aiming to induce deep sleep. This method facilitates dialogue with the listener's subconscious through music.
Jack has showed me the results from a clinical test he did with patients with sleep disorders, which indicated actual effect. This scientific approach seems to come from his computer science background. My overall impression of him is a passionate researcher, free from the boundary between art and science, intuition and reason.
Replenishing Qi Cleansing and warming the body
Crystal xylophone player Sylvia and her passion towards spiritual music
Sylvia Hsu 許嫚烜
Sylvia (Hsu Man-Hsuan), is a music producer and a guzheng/crystal xylophone player at Wind Music, with proven talent, being nominated at GMA twice. She has developed an instrument called crystal xylophone at Wind Music, with music producer, Wu Judy Chin-tai. With the instrument, which took 10 years for completion, she recorded an album called “Sound of the Crystal Energy”. This package of 8 CDs, has been clinically tested by Dr. Richard Po-Hsien Wang who specializes in naturopathic. Proving that after listening, for around 10~15 minutes, it showed a relaxation in physical and spiritual pressure.
Sylvia told me she has been eager to create spiritual music from when she was a student at college, and considers it as a profound topic to tackle on. I asked her if it’s related to any specific religion, but she denies it and says it’s about “sound healing” and “new age”.
She started her career at Wind Music at one of their label “Spiritlands”, which focus on spiritual music that provides wellness, relaxation, pressure release and so on. There, she met international icons such as Yvonne de Bruijin, a psychotherapist using her voice, and Hans de Back, a master of Tibetan singing bowl, who inspired her a lot. She says, when she creates, it’s not only for her achievements, but also for the environment, human being and its soul.
Lotus in the Breeze "Force of the East"
Talking with Henrik from Denmark, and Shinji from Japan
Shinji Chiura Henrik Birk Aaboe
I have also talked with international musicians working with Wind Music. Henrik Birk Aaboe is a producer based in Denmark. He has released an album called “A New Day Begins” aimed for families with children.
Henrik has a classical background and started his career as a member of a pop band. He reached a turning point, when him and his wife were having their first child. This motivated him to create music that provides calming environment for baby and mother. In 1999, him and his musical partner, Klaus Tølbøll Sørense, produced “Music for Mother & Child” series. And I’ve learned that they have infused a lot of ingenuity.
Henrik explained that, a baby will be listening to mother’s heartbeat continuously, and thus, he adopted the tempo of heartbeat. He also told me the importance of repetition, in order to not to stimulate the baby with sudden changes. The series has become a commercial success, and lead to working with Wind Music.
Another, figure is Shinji Chiura from Japan. Shinji started his artistic career as a theatrical performer and studied integrated art in Tokyo. Later on, he moved to New York to study dance. There, he was fascinated by the music, often contemporary and minimal music, accompanied with the dance performance. This has become the catalyst for him to create music. He has also experienced living in Lopez Island, in an environment completely surrounded by nature. At the island, he enjoyed meditating, and told me that he felt the natural sounds “sounded as if they were living”.
After returning to Japan and working almost ten years in the design industry, he decided to move to Yatsugatake, a mountainous area located across Yamanashi and Nagano prefecture. He started creating ambient music and released “Yoga Nidra” series, which eventually became a hit. He recently produces music for mindfulness and autonomic nerves, and says that “Healing is about reconnecting with yourself. Therefore, I want to not only heal people but also, awaken them.”
Shinji Chiura’s Stress Relief Music
Innocent Joy "The Fairy Tale Begins-Lullabies for Babies"
Through conversations with these four producers, I have found out that everyone has their own principle and procedures, when it comes to music production. It may sound as a matter of course, but when music is expected to work “functionally”, for specific purpose, there lies a risk of commoditization and lack of uniqueness. However, the music these producers come up with, are never the same. And ultimately, whether the listeners feel that it’s “healing” or not, depends on respective preference. Therefore, diversity should also be important for healing music.