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!
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.
Last week I was in Germany at the Eurasia Media & Distribution Consultation, and it was excellent! It was an amazing combination of all the nerdy, geeky things I like to do combined with our work in the ethnoarts. It was a week of talking about:
- A/V documentation in minority people groups
- getting media and Scripture onto phones
- Android and iPhone apps
- copyright and informed consent
- orality and non-print media
- and more!
I was very glad to be there for this conference, and I’ve come back with some great ideas for our work in Indonesia. It’s exciting to talk to so many people on the cutting edge of technology and the arts for ministry. There will be more on this later; as we start doing some new things I’ll try to keep posting about it here.
Germany was beautiful, and I only wish I’d had some time to look around and do some sightseeing. Of course, I’m not really allowed to go traipsing around Europe without my wife; I was under strict orders! Here’s a few pictures of the area around where we had the conference:
And of course, I had a layover in Paris so I had to have a nice breakfast. Croissants and cappuccinos really are better there: