A few days ago, I (Matt) did something I have never done before. I wrote a 21 page paper documenting all my observations, research, and musical analysis of the mopopoadat ceremony you’ve been hearing about if you follow this blog. Today I sat down and thought about it, and I realized this is the first time I’ve written a paper like this outside the classroom and I actually enjoyed it. It makes a difference when I care about the topic!
Although it may not seem like writing papers would be part of our job, it’s important for several reasons. First, we need to document what we see for future generations. In this case it isn’t just research for the sake of research, but rather preserving a moment in time for this culture. I’m thinking about writing some of our research up in Indonesian to make it more accessible to people here (maybe even translating this paper). Second, if we don’t do thorough research to understand the arts here how can we possibly expect to help?
If there’s any of you out there that are true academia/ethnomusicology nerds, I’m going to put a link to the paper at the end of this post. I know that about 99.9% of you aren’t interested in reading something like that, but on the random chance that someone is I’m including it.
Something I’ve been considering for a long time is how to make all my research open. I’m still working on the best way to do this, but I’d like to publish anything I write and any media we record on the web, freely accessible to all. Academic journals and the like are excellent “gatekeepers” to ensure that published research is well done and reputable, but I don’t like the difficulty it can present when regular people want to access it. Ideally if I publish any research it would be in a reputable journal in our field but I would like to find some way to make it easily available too. Enough about this topic; it’s best saved for another time and I digress…
As we record performances and talk to people, we are always asking their permission to use what we record for research and to help the Pendau people, and we commit that nothing will ever be sold for profit. This is a very important part of our research as it removes so much suspicion about motives and gives us the freedom to share with the outside world the amazing and unique things we see here.
For now, I’m just “publishing” this paper via Google Docs, but who knows what I’ll do with it in the future. Here’s the link for that 0.01% of you who are interested: