Tag 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


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:



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:


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!


Filed under Ethnoarts, language/culture, Music

An interesting village trip

A few days ago I took a trip out past the village we will live in to go visit another member of the translation team who lives much, much further out in the middle of nowhere.  No cell phone reception, and either a 30 minute boat trip or a 20 minute, really nasty trail to ride on the motorbike.

On the upside, because it is so remote the village is all the same ethnicity, which means the language and culture aren’t all mixed up with everybody else’s.  It means we have some great research opportunities there, although for the foreseeable future it will probably just be me (Matt) by myself making trips out there.

The trail to get there was beautiful:

2011-04-28 15.43.09

Although I rode my motorbike all the way in, I opted not to do so on the way out.  Thinking about taking a bad fall off the bike out there where the next person may not come along for a few hours/days and there’s no phone reception made me decide to take a boat back out instead of the trail.  So, in the standard Indonesian utilitarian way, we just put my motorbike on the front of an outrigger canoe:

2011-04-29 14.08.45

While I was there, I had the chance to meet some very talented musicians, and learn about a 2-string guitar-like instrument they have:


Unfortunately the art of playing and building these instruments is almost dead, but the gentleman above still knows how to do both!  Hopefully in the next few months he’ll have made a few new ones – one for me and another new one for himself.  You can see in the picture that the instrument looks a lot like a boat – there’s a very good reason for that considering they are a fishing culture.

In the morning I also had a chance to go out fishing with a few of the guys.  Here, they fish using spear guns.  I don’t have a great picture of the guns, but you can see the fronts of some here:


To get in and out of the village, you have to sail through a mangrove swamp:



Once we got out to the fishing spot, the guys just hop of the boat and go diving with their spear guns, popping up every once in a while to toss their catch into the canoe.


2011-04-29 08.30.50


Something else I saw out there that caught my eye was this guy in his boat:


At first I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, playing with some hose in his boat.  And why was he running an air compressor in his canoe?  Then, I realized that he was only the guy on the surface – the other members of his team were diving down deep below to fish, using the air from the compressor to breathe.  If you have seen BBC’s Human Planet series, the episode on Oceans shows fishermen doing this in the Philippines.  It’s called compressor diving, and it’s not the safest thing in the world.

This turned out to be a pretty interesting trip.  On my way back, I had a chance to swing by the village we’re going to live in, and I was encouraged to see that work has started on our house!  Hopefully in a few months we can finally start living there as a family.

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Filed under Ethnoarts