Music of a Christian mystic, the Taiwanese Puyuma people, and Mexico

By Elizabeth Doyle

Hildegard von Bingen — In the 12th century, there was a Christian mystic in Germany named Hildegard.  She was a nun with the power to heal (she was very good with herbs.) Sent to live in a convent at a very young age, to say she made the most of it is an understatement. She had religious visions all of her life, she was a writer, a scientist, and a musical composer.  She lived in an age when Christianity was very austere, and I feel that influence when I hear her music.  A certain dustiness or confinement. But I also hear her belief in her shinng visions and revelations.  It’s said that there were beams of light over her convent on the day that she died.  She was eventually declared a saint.  And what a miracle it is that after all these centuries, we still have her music!  Here it is:





Samingad — This is a Taiwanese artist who’s Puyuma, a member of one of the ethnic groups who lived in Taiwan before many Chinese joined them.  She grew up in a family that spent a lot of time teaching tribal music to children, and a lot of her music celebrates her Puyuma heritage. I love the breezy, angelic feel of her music.  And I could be wrong, but I think this video has a shot of the mysterious monolith that was built long ago by the Puyama people. (I could be mistaken about what I’m seeing, though!) But either, way it’s a gorgeous video: Click here.









Lila Downs –Mexico has been an important hotbed of outstanding music for hundreds of years.  Combining the original music of the area with the fluttering sounds of the Spaniards, Mexican music has really captivated the world. Here’s a Mexican artist I like. Her name is Lila Downs, and her music really captures the ancient earthiness of Mexico’s moist, spiritual, rich history, while also being modern, political and celebrational: Click here.





Top photo: Wikimedia Commons / “This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.” / Hildegard Von Bingen receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary.

Second photo:  Torii Ryūzō / Wikimedia Commons / “This photographic image is considered to be public domain according to article 23 of old copyright law of Japan and article 2 of supplemental provision of copyright law of Japan.”  / The Moon-shape Monolith  by Japanese anthropologist Torii Ryūzō  about 1896 

Third photo: Ivan Hernandez / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. “/ Lila Downs in Toronto Canada. 

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