Category Archives: Music

Worship and Local Arts Workshop

In mid-September, I (Matt) had the opportunity to lead a workshop at a local church about worship and local arts.  This was in the Balinese community I’ve been working with recently, and I was excited to have the opportunity to run a workshop with them instead of just research. I am pleased to say that it went very well!  We all learned a lot about their culture and arts and what the Bible has to say about it, and I hope that this is not the end but rather the beginning of the development of Christian local arts there.

This was a short workshop, just 3 evenings.  The original plan was for 5 evenings (Mon.-Fri.) but that conflicted with some church services so we shortened it to just three.  That was a little shorter than I was hoping for, but we made the most of the time we had.  We covered topics such as:

  • Worship in the Bible (the beginning, Moses and the Tabernacle, the temple, in diaspora, Jesus, the early church, and Paul’s writings)
  • The Bible, Music, and Meaning
  • New Songs in the Bible
  • Borrowing Songs from other cultures/languages
  • Creating an Arts Profile for their community
  • making plans for the future
  • sharing the plans with the group

It was a packed schedule!  I was pleasantly surprised at how much everyone was interested in the theology of worship; I had expected those sessions to be somewhat dry, but they inspired some serious discussion.  We ended with making plans for the future, so participants grouped themselves by area of interest and chose something from the Arts Profile that they would like to encourage, use in church, etc.

At the end, participants presented plans for encouraging new music, reviving a food tradition, looking for someone to help with Balinese dance, using local clothing, and using storytelling for special occasions at church.  Overall, for an abbreviated workshop I was very pleased with the outcome. 

Now it is in their hands – one principle we work by is helping communities with their needs, but not forcing our ideas or programs on them.  This workshop was a great introduction to what this church could do with its amazing artistic and cultural capabilities, but it is now up to them to choose what to do.  There’s much more I can do there to help encourage local arts in church, but we will take it one step at a time and see what their needs and desires are.

I hope to hold another workshop like this in November for the churches here in the city, so we’ll keep you all posted!

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Filed under Dance, Ethnoarts, Food, language/culture, Music, religion, workshop

Balinese Dance

This post is long overdue! A while back I had the chance to attend a special service at a Balinese church a few hours away.  The opening and closing of the service featured Balinese dance, and I was asked to record it.  This was all part of my research and learning about this community so that I can better understand and help them.  In a few weeks, I’ll be hosting a three day seminar on music, worship, and culture there to encourage them to think about more ways that their Balinese culture can be a part of their worship.

These two videos were shared on Facebook a while back, but I’d like to post them here as well for those of you who missed them the first time around. Enjoy!

Opening:

 

Closing:

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Filed under Church Events, Dance, Ethnoarts, language/culture, Music, Research

Balinese gamelan…on Sulawesi

In our area there are numerous Balinese immigrants, especially on the east coast of our island.  Many of them are Hindu, but there’s a significant Christian population too and many of them belong to our church denomination.

One of the most exciting things for us to see is that although they are Christians, they have not abandoned their Balinese culture and language.  The church building is in a Balinese style, and they use the gamelan for some of their music.  Gamelan is an Indonesian musical ensemble from the islands of Java and Bali. They have asked us to help them adapt more existing songs so that they can be used with the gamelan and to help them write new songs that they can use in church along with their traditional Balinese music.  We are thrilled to help since this is what we are passionate about!

I visited this church about a year ago and was completely unprepared for what I found.  At that point, we didn’t know we’d be working with them so I was just there attending a special church service.  I shot some video, but all I had was my point-and-shoot camera so the quality isn’t very good.  Now that we’re working with them on developing new music, I’ll be there a lot more and will have much more (and hopefully better) media to share in the future.

In the meantime, here’s their rendition of Kidung Jemaat No. 1 “Haleluya, Pujilah” (number 1 in the hymbook) using gamelan:

This is one of four or five songs that they currently have that use the gamelan.  They are eager for more, because the same songs over and over again get old very quickly!

For you music nerds out there, this particular gamelan is based on a Balinese variation of the slendro pentatonic scale.  In solfege it would be notated la ti do mi fa (in Indonesia,  la si do mi fa) or using cipher notation (kepatihan), 12356 67134 (12356 is how many people casually notate it here, but technically because it is minor you start on la, or 6).  Gamelan is typically tuned to the 7-tone pelog scale or the 5-tone slendro scale, and this Balinese gamelan is of the 5-tone variety but the tuning is slightly different than a Javanese gamelan.

More to come about all this later!  I should be heading out to visit them again next week.

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Filed under Church Events, Ethnoarts, Music, Research

Batunjuk

During our last village trip, there was a huge church service and celebration to mark the end of the Christmas season.  Everyone from all over the area was invited and there was a big potluck meal afterwards.  Following that, there was batunjuk.  This is a tradition from North Sulawesi that immigrants brought with them to our area, and the best way to describe it is a good old-fashioned hymn sing.  Everyone sits in a circle inside the church and two people are chosen to start and are given flowers to hold.  They choose the first song and as everyone sings they walk around the circle in opposite directions.  When the song is over, the flowers are given to the person where they stop and those two new people pick the next song.  This continues for several hours, sometimes even all night!  The songs are chosen only from the old, traditional Christian songs that are rarely sung anymore, so it has a nostalgic feel to it.  Even though they were old songs, it was encouraging to see  people of all ages participating.  Coffee, tea, and snacks are served and everyone relaxes and enjoys the singing; occasionally there’s dancing as well.  I shot some video of the festivities to give you an idea of what it’s all about.  The singing went on for hours and hours and hours . . . but it was great fun!

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Filed under Church Events, Ethnoarts, language/culture, Music, religion, Village life

Kecapi

As a few of you might already know, I’ve been looking for an instrument called the kecapi for quite a while now.  Here it’s a well known musical instrument but no one seems to play it or know how to make it anymore.  Last week things changed for the better!

I was out at the end of a peninsula, about as remote as you can get.  There was no phone reception, no electricity, and I had to take a motorbike to the end of the road and then take a boat for another half hour to get to this village.  Needless to say, I don’t make it out there very often although it is somewhat of a haven for the language and culture of this people group.  Here’s a shot from the outrigger canoe ride in:  IMG_20120627_121700

And then through a mangrove swamp to get to the village:

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While I was there last week, I learned that someone had built a kecapi for me!  The kecapi is a two-stringed plucked instrument that is shaped somewhat like a boat.  It is found throughout this part of Indonesia and even up into the Philippines.

My kecapi isn’t quite done yet since it still needs to be stained and finished, but it plays just fine.  The guy who made it for me decided to give it a go, and I very quickly whipped out my field recorder (handy to have at all times!) and started recording.  The quality isn’t great since it wasn’t a formal recording session and people were coming and going, but at this point I’ll take whatever I can get.  I got about a half hour of recordings total, but here’s a short  sample for you:

 Kecapi sample 27-6-2012 by mattmenger

Normally there would be singing too, but he was just testing it out.

Later, we hiked up to his (the man who made the kecapi for me) home in the mountains by his garden:IMG_20120627_172525

Although it’s a pretty simple home, he lives alone and has everything he needs.  I am amazed at the ingenuity I find here.  Plus, he’s got an amazing view:IMG_20120628_192043

I have an old picture of a kecapi that I took last year; up until now it was the only one I’d ever seen and it was broken.  All I’ve had of this amazing instrument for the past two years was this grainy picture taken in the night:

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Now I have finally heard it!  There’s a big cultural event in two weeks, and there’s talk that more people might bring their kecapis along.  I’ll have my A/V equipment handy and I hope I can learn more about this unique instrument, how we can preserve it as well as encourage it to be used,  and how it might be a part of our work with the church.

I’ll share a picture of my kecapi as soon as it is finished and I get my hands on it!

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Filed under Ethnoarts, language/culture, Music

There Was an Old Lady

Did anyone else grow up singing this song on road trips in the car?  We just taught it to Elizabeth (and Kara) with my parents when we were down in Houston, and it brought back memories! I have no idea why this is worth sharing on our blog, but Elizabeth just asked me to sing it again so I thought I’d see it there’s anyone else out there that knows this one.

Here’s the lyrics, and I found it on YouTube also:

 

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
I dunno why she swallowed that fly,
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly –
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd, to swallow a bird!
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly –
Perhaps she’ll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat.
Imagine that, she swallowed a cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird …
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog.
What a hog! To swallow a dog!
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat…
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird …
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a goat.
Just opened her throat and swallowed a goat!
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog …
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird …
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat…
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog…
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat…
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird …
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse –
She’s dead, of course.

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