Pasibutbut, better known as "eight-part polyphony," is a song used to pray for millet harvesting. While singing Pasibutbut, the 16 adult males will hook their arms together — literally “getting each other's back” — forming a human circle that gently sways and slowly rotates counterclockwise. With the lead singer gradually ascends the chromatic scales of his vocalized "u" and "o" sounds in harmonic overtones, two to three polyphonic parts are formed, which will come to an abrupt stop the moment they reach their highest pitches. With the dynamism of chanting voice circling about with ascending maneuvers, the singers pray devotedly to Dehanin (the Bunun god in heaven) that millets will grow with speedy spins and that harvest is just around the corner.
In 1943, the Pasibutbut performed by Kanating villagers was recorded for the first time by Kurosawa, a Japanese ethnomusicologist. In 2015, Canadian musician Matthew Carl Lien also invited Kanating villagers to record the same song to produce a music sculpture, the participants of which are already third-generation members.
(Announcement of Military Merit)
In the early days, the Bunun people used to hold the "Announcement of Military Merit" ritual after headhunting. Male participants would crouch around a wine cask (or enemy's heads for that matter), then each would take turns to recount his exploits in combat, including the name of his clan, the ins and outs of his military engagement, and the number of enemy he has slain. On the periphery of the male circle, women would reiterate the merits and stamp their feet, cheering "hu, hu, hu" in high-pitched bouts of excitement as a response to the announcement.
Presently this ritual has changed with the transformation of social patterns, and headhunting merit has assumed form of hunting performance. Cheering warriors will sing of their extraordinary feats with gesticulating hands and stamping feet, recounting their hunting achievement one after another. Sometimes, as a finishing touch, an introduction to a specific hunter and his clan would even be added.
This is a song frequently heard among the Bunun people, who at times would gather together drinking millet liquor to take a breathing spell in the midst of pressing farm works. As long as someone starts the Misav tune, all would join to express their own sentiments by way of humming. Most Misav lyrics are just function words without specific meaning, but the point is to hum in group improvisations in accordance with each individual's frame of mind at the moment, be it frolicsome or forlorn.
Cindun Tu Huzas
This song, written in question-and-answer form, depicts the division of labor between male and female Bununs regarding their tribal works and daily life, indicating the significant role played by female weaver.
(Love Others Like You Would Love Yourself)
Back in the tribal times, Bunun parents often interacted spontaneously with their youngsters by ways of singing and humming of songs. Through the gist of the lyrics, parents also admonished their youngsters about the correct outlook on life. Masiala-Malkabunun is meant to exhort the youngsters not to deride people with physical defects, otherwise they will invite their own share of calamity in their next lives.