How do you say Mondo Taiwan in Mandarin/Taiwanese?
(Last update to this page: 11/20/2003)

"Taiwan is a noisy place." That's what us foreigners'd say, but Taiwanese call it rè nào, a phrase that is difficult to translate directly into English (literally "hot noise") but which means something like "lively, festive, AND noisy"!

Some of the sounds you can hear in Taiwan are strange, funny, or unidentifiable. Others are so repetitious, you might go crazy if you don't find a way to ignore them. One of the things that drives me nuts is the voices of the people who dub TV shows. Taiwan imports a lot of shows from abroad and dubs the voices, usually in Mandarin. I remember when I first learned that Mel Blanc did all of the voices for Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, and more, I was quite impressed. Besides the obvious talent common to the creation of each of these characters, they're all quite unique. In all of Taiwan, there seem to be only about 10 people handling all of the dubbing duties, and they suck! Little boys and old women alike are dubbed by women who sound like they're in their 30s. Stereotypes abound in this field. The "dummy" voice. The "shaky" old voice. The "whining" child.

Below are a few of the sounds I've encountered which I feel are unique to Taiwan. Enjoy!
Some of the Sounds of Mondo Taiwan
The garbage truck song Noonish, for me
(depends where you live)
Outside my window Every friggin' day!
Ambulance sirens Morning, noon, and night Anywhere Avg. 10 to 15 times a day.
Cell phones Anytime Anywhere Most noticed in movie theaters and concert halls,
avg. 10 times per show
Noise trucks
(xuan1 chuan2 che1)
8 AM - 10 PM On the streets 5 to 10 times a day --
more often before elections
A child playing
Beethoven's "Ode to Joy"
on the recorder
Last noted instance
10 AM on a Sunday
Usually for about an
hour each afternoon
Outside my living
room window
15 to 20 times/month
Steel "broom"
(a device for "massage"
or self-flagellation)
Anytime Emanating from the open
windows of elderly neighbors
A couple of times a week
My asshole* neighbors blowing their car horn at someone parked in front of their driveway. Morning, noon, night, middle of the night, etc. Outside my bedroom window About 5 times a day, just for that family.
The words "shang1 nao3 jin1"
(Mandarin for "a brainbuster")
When slight difficulty
(requiring thinking)
is encountered
Anywhere Several times a day
An "erhu"
(traditional 2-string violin)
playing the same 2 notes
over and over and...
Afternoon and evening,
about an hour each time
A couple of houses down About once a week
Barking dogs 24-hours a day Everywhere Almost constantly
The neighbor's telephone ringing for more than 5 minutes non-stop Every afternoon Outside my living room window 3 to 4 times a week

* Why are they "assholes" when somebody else is parking in front of their driveway? Because every time they blow their horn, hundreds of their neighbors get to hear their horn (including me), but the person parked in front of their driveway is far away, oblivious to the blowing. Therefore, it goes on for several minutes before my neighbors start kicking the car trying to set off the alarm or look for a telephone number on the dashboard to call the owner or calling the police to tow the fuckers away or any number of other, quieter options. Perhaps if they painted their "NO PARKING" sign a little more clearly, along with a note that they'd call the police if anyone mistakenly decided to park their car in front of the driveway, it might not happen quite so often. I know, I know. It's a pipe dream... Shang nao jin!

I hate IDCJ's fuckin' guts!
Your unfriendly neighborhood noise truck.
- photo by Mondo Taiwan -
Sing it with me: "I hate ID~CJ~~~!"

Bring On the Noise!

A MIDI file written by your webmaster to inaugurate the Mondo Taiwan 2000 ("we're still waitin' for the real new millennium") version of this website. The intro to Part 1 contains the "Mondo-est" of Taiwanese riffs (see below), the middle is a blues shuffle with a stereotypically Asian-sounding motif (but with a twist!) and some wild piano pyrotechnics, and the end is a slightly tweaked intro to the ROC National Anthem. Part 2 is a "mondo" Nakashi-style piece I wrote which might be called "My Yellow Cow is Prettier than Your Yellow Cow" -- or somethin'! 33 KB, 3 min. 20 sec. loop Click this link to access the file directly for download.

Another itty-bitty MIDI sequenced by your webmaster -- this is the strange tune which emanated from the garbage truck that drove through my old neighborhood early in the morning. Anyone know the source? (I don't believe it's Brahms' Lullaby -- or even a variation!) If so, e-mail me! (Best if allowed to loop for at least 15 minutes to achieve the vertiginous effect of the real thing.) 3 KB, 10 sec. loop Click this link to access the file directly for download.

A MIDI of yet another song played by the garbage trucks early, early in the morning. This one is by Tekla Badarzewska-Baranowska a short-lived nineteenth-century Polish composer whose single work "Modlitwa dziewicy" ("A Maiden's Prayer") won her world acclaim. This MIDI was also sequenced by your webmaster. Get up out of your chair, and do some t'ai chi -- this one starts real slow (on purpose). 5 KB, 2 min. 16 sec. loop Click this link to access the file directly for download.

A MIDI variation of that other early morning trashy music ("A Maiden's Prayer"), birds included. Also sequenced by your webmaster. 23.4 KB, 2 min. 01 sec. loop Click this link to access the file directly for download.

An mp3 of a song about oral sex that I once heard as I rode to work on the city bus. The girl sitting across from me was tapping her finger on the seat in front of her to the beat of the music. I could only wonder if she understood... (You'll have to "Save link as..." and rename the file with an "mp3" extension if you want to hear it.) 3.7 MB, 4 min. 05 sec.

An mp2 file of variations on the Mondo-est of Taiwanese riffs, sure to be encountered if you ride public transportation, go to night markets, travel anywhere outside of the 3 big cities, or play mahjong with old people. These were all sampled from one side of a cassette of "nakashi" music by the lovely singer Pai Wen-wen. The title of the cassette -- appropriately enough -- is "Night Market Nakashi." I love this stuff, but my students cringe when they hear it! (It must be the "saxophone / vibraslap / clean guitar" combo that does it.) Hear my own take on the riff in the intro to the Mondo Taiwan 2000 Theme above. 475 KB, 1 min. (Because Angelfire doesn't allow this kind of file to open in its own window, you'll have to "Save link as..." to hear the file.)

A 16-bit 32-kbps layer II mp2 file of the Taiwanese equivalent of "the ice cream man": hot, tetrahedral rice tamales and wine-basted snails. Yummy for the tummy! (?) 179 KB, 44 sec.

A WAV file of the Buddhist mantra "Nan2 mo2 a0 mi3 tuo2 fo2" (Namo Amitabha -- an homage to the Amitabha Buddha) which repeats "in perpetuo" at funerals and night markets. (You can hear my MIDI "variation" of its melody here.) 120 KB, 15 sec. loop.

A MIDI file of the outdated but still-in-use ROC National Anthem (AKA the party song of the KMT), still standard fare for schoolkids learning how to play the recorder. Very small, but you'll need a good soundcard or SoftSynth to appreciate it. 9 KB, 59 sec.

An AU file of the ROC National Anthem (located on another site), which is actually the party song of the KMT (Kuo Min Tang) -- the former ruling party in Taiwan whose goal is to "retake the mainland." It's a big file, but it's got the vocals and a real orchestra. 663 KB, 1 min. 16 sec.

More AU files of traditional music from Taiwan can be found at The Internet Chinese Music Archive -- the same site where the above file is located.

Several MIDI files of Taiwanese music can be found on a Fortune City website here. (Link reported broken by a very disappointed visitor. Please e-mail me any links you have for Taiwanese MIDIs!)

There are lots of RealPlayer files of Taiwanese music at PopStation. That page is in Big-5 Chinese encoding, so if you can't read the characters, here's what you do. Scroll down toward the bottom of the page. You'll see two pinkish rectangles labeled in English as Section D and Section C. (I guess they're reading Hanzi style.) The second set under Section D was titled "Taiwan" when I viewed the page. Download the ZIP files to your computer. After decompressing the files, they can be played with RealPlayer (AKA "RealOne").

Some AU files of the popular music of Deng Li Jun (Teresa Teng) can be found here. (When you arrive at that site, you'll have to scroll up to see her picture.)

An mp3 file of a really bad song which was all the rage in February 2000. It's called "There Are No Handsome Guys at Chiao Ta University." The singer says this is the reason she doesn't have a boyfriend, but once you hear this "song," you'll think otherwise. For laughs ONLY! 2.9 MB, 3 min. 13 sec.

Windows Media - Whether you want to practice your Mandarin, Taiwanese, or "Taiwan Guoyu" listening ability or just enjoy the sounds "John Cage" style, you can hear all kinds of things from and about Taiwan via links on this page. Requires Windows Media Player.
More files I want to post:

Love World and other obnoxious audio advertisements (complete with music) that invade your eardrums from mobile loudspeakers; the constant whirr of motorcycle engines; an ambulance behind cars that feel like they suddenly NEED to wait for the red light; belching at the dinner table; the constant ringing of cell phones in a movie theater; and last but not least, WHATEVER ELSE YOU ASK FOR!

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