Every morning and into the late afternoon, Gangkou Elementary School (港口國小）at Laeno and Jingpu Elementary School（靜浦國小）at Cawi’ on either side of the Lagoon mark school periods with Westminster Chimes and a song adapted from the Second Movement of Dvorak’s “From the New World.” The song is called “Homesickness” (念故鄉) in Mandarin, likely a reference to the afterlife of this movement as the song “Going Home” as adapted by Dvorak’s student William Arms Fisher. The use of both songs derives from Japan. “Going Home” often plays in Japan on the five o’clock chimes, which serve as a test of emergency announcement broadcasts and a gentle reminder to children to return home. In Taiwan, the electronic chime version of “Going Home” echoes through school compounds and out into surrounding neighborhoods as the schoolchildren head home for supper. Living in Cawi’, I would hear it, slightly out of synch and echoing off the mountains behind the community, from both elementary schools on either side of the Siuguluan River.
If the song was chosen for its nostalgic melody, it has also its connections to the soundscape of occupation in Settler North America: Dvorak created the piece employing inspiration from Native American and African American musics, which he somehow conflated. One can hear his appropriation of these inspirations in the pentatonic melody; and, as a result, Fisher’s adaptation of the second movement as “Going Home” succeeds at sounding like a folksong. The song’s popularity in Japan derives from adoption in the music curriculum as well as use on the five o’clock chime, the latter likely beginning in the late 1960s.
Perhaps nostalgia and connection with high culture explain its use in school chimes in Taiwan, a country where even the garbage trucks play Beethoven and Badarzewska (and where warblers have come to imitate the melody of “The Young Maiden’s Prayer”). As an index of the school day, moreover, “Going Home” iterates other features of the school as a component of occupation in Cepo’: like the name for elementary school, kongkoan, the song borrows from Japanese practice, marking hours and schooldays, referred to in Sowal no Pangcah as romi’ad no mitiliday, the time of students. School chimes resound across different historical occupations, as Japanese sonic practices continue in the Nationalist Chinese / Settler Taiwanese school system. Today the elementary schools will broadcast popular songs by Taiwanese Indigenous singers; passing beside the schools, one can sometimes hear students practicing traditional Pangcah songs. We are no longer in the days in which the Nationalist Party strove to recover the lost metropole and enforced a monocultural Chinese nationalism, but a multicultural Taiwan in which students can study their mother tongue in the elementary school, at least for an hour a week. However, the framing of Pangcah language or music within the tones of “Going Home” or the Westminster Chimes marks the school as representative of Taipei (i.e., the Settler government) within the community’s midst, resonating across the space of the community as the chimes echo.
Curiously, the use of “Going Home” as the late afternoon bell dates no earlier than the 1970s. The elementary school in Laeno used only hand rung bells to mark the hours until the 1970s. When asked whether schools had musical chimes during the late Japanese colonial period and the early post-war period, a variety of respondents whom I asked from Indigenous and Settler communities around Taiwan underscored that in the early post-war period Taiwan was a poor country. As one of these respondents noted,
We didn’t have electricity! How could we have that kind of bells?
(miyiw tian! nayiw ciang cong seng? 沒有電！ 哪有這樣鐘聲？)
When electric bells were first introduced, they did not play the chime tones that we now associate with school bells on the island. “Going Home” thus registers in ways distinct from the actual conditions of its adoption on Taiwan, even among those who remember that the bells are not a simple continuation of elementary school practice from the Japanese colonial period through the martial law period to the present. Most people hear “Going Home” as a memory of the Japanese colonial period. Yet, the actual borrowing of this song for school bells happened under the KMT, during the martial law period in which the government sought recognition as “Free China,” and often sought to displace or erase signs of Japanese colonialism. The song may have been transferred from Japan along with the technology of community / school broadcasts, a kind of resonant accident. Heard as an index of the elementary school’s Japanese colonial origins—as if the school had always played this tune in the late afternoon—the song registers several gaps: one, between decolonizing claims made by the KMT and the reality of continued colonial dispossession; two, between time as known in land- and ocean- based practices in Cepo’ and the time of schools and other colonial institutions.
The school chimes resonate across the space of the entire village. As I sit in my friend’s house in Cawi’, I can hear them broadcast from across the lagoon, echoing from Laeno as well as from Jingpu Elementary School just a hundred meters or so down the road. This extension of the sound beyond the school across the niyaro’ participates in a generalized settler dominance of time and activity, layering clock time, toki, over the sounds of river and ocean which index a time organized by daylight, moon, and tide. The time of the school is that of governing and disciplining bodies. Nevertheless, the school chimes layer over the ocean and river rather than displacing them entirely. The voice of riyar may thus always call us to be other than docile subjects of national institutions.
If the school chimes sound occupation as ordinary, a background reality, such a background occasionally comes to light in parodies of patriotic school songs from the 1950s through the 1970s. These parodies, which have made their way into everyday recreation, are widely disseminated—the most popular is not limited to Pangach but sung among several other Indigeneous groups on Taiwan. It begins with a rousing call to “Retake the Mainland” (fangong fangong fangong dalu qu 反攻反攻反攻大陸) but soon asserts the need to “Repair to the Liquor Monopoly Bureau” （fangong fangong fangong gongmaiju 反攻反攻反攻公賣局）. Another song describes the Father of the Nation, Sun Yat-Sen, as selling underpants. diffuse sounds of multilayered occupation are always present but subject to parody, becoming part of drinking games