Chen Da's Story

The Pioneer of Hengchun Folk Songs V The Life of Chen Da


Mr. Chen was born in Hengchun in 1905. His family was too poor to send him to school. But he loved music so much that he learned to play moon-guitar from his brother secretly. And from the folks at the temple, he learned the popular Hengchun tune.


At the age of 16, he earned his reputation around Hengchun area by singing Hengchung folk songs. At the age of 29, his eyes blinded after a serious illness. Although he made some money by selling his lands after that, he was still poor 10 years later when he spent all the money. His wife ran away from him. Once again, he got nothing left except the moon-guitar. In 1967, his talent was discovered by musicologists and then became well known through the reports of public media.


Because his singing was so desolate, the lyrics was so poetic, and the sound of moon-guitar he played was so clear and abundant, he was invited to Teipei to accept the interview. He became popular. TVs, magazines, newspapers, reported him. He even recorded his own album. The most famous song was Thinking of. In 1978, it was played in a dance " The Legacy'' by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan.

But it seemed that people was more interested in him rather than his singing.

The rich incomes that his performances brought did not improve his life too much. Although he liked to sing for people in public, he was tired of been scheduled so tightly for the performances. In 1975, Chen Da was old, he suffered from mental delusion disease and often loafed in the street. In 1981, he made up his mind and went back to Hengchun, his hometown. Unfortunately, On April 11, he was hit by an overspeed bus when he crossed the road and died on his way escorted to the hospital. Chen Da was 76 years old when he died.


Many old Hengchun folk song singers still praise Mr. Chen 's singing very much. "His playing and singing were different from what you would usually hear. His tune had the folk song flavor extremely. said Mr. Dingshun Chu, an old Hengchun folk song singer. Mr. Weiliang Shi, one of the musicologists who discorvered Chen Da , said, He was a composer, he changed and adapted songs the way he wanted. He is a poet, he create extemporaneous lyrics to express himself, told us stories, and taugth us, K , He is a musician who played and sang altogether. .



2005 was the 130th anniversary of Heng Chung Town. It was also the 25 th years since Chen Da's death in 1981. In this special year, Cultural Affairs Bureau of Pingtung County worked with Heng Chung Town to hold a series of activities to memorialize the great folk wong singer, and began a new project to renovate his old house.

The purpose of this project was to keep the original appearance of his house, and transform his surrounding area to a scenic spots for tourists. The intention behind this project was to let people know the life of the special singer. In this tiny house , the old singer always keepoptimistic mind and sang folk songs all dya long, no matter how hard of his life!

Chen Da's house - before renvoating






Designed by Hengchun Primary School. Pingtung County , Taiwan. . Copyright (c) 2007 All rights reserved.