Lian Husi Klamar
Inside the book
“Music is part of all aspects of Timorese life and singing is their universal instrument. Fishermen sing as they row out to cast their nets. They sing to the turtles and the dolphins when they bring the catch in. Farmers sing to the buffalos and play on their kafu’i (flute) to call them home. Songs accompany dances whilst husking the rice. Singing during mundane jobs such as pounding grain and weeding the rice paddies makes physical chores seem less monotonous. Traditional music also plays an important role in the special ceremonies for the various stages of the agricultural year, for example the planting and harvesting of crops.” p.24
“Despite centuries of occupation, first under the Portuguese and then under the Indonesians, the East Timorese have developed a rich and unique culture, including an exceptional musical tradition. This musical tradition was so damaged or destroyed by the repression of the occupiers, particularly under Indonesian occupation, that there are concerns from elderly Timorese for its survival.” p. 24
Questions and Answers with Ros Dunlop
We are lucky enough to be able to include a few questions and answers with Ros about the book.
Question: Why did you make this book?
Answer: I began doing the recording of the Traditional Music of Timor in 2002 after an old man in a village I had played a concert at said “you have all this technology, can you help us, we are worried our music will die with our passing.” In 2009 I met the Ambassador of the US who asked what I wanted to do with the material, I said make a permanent record in Tetun and English so that people can know about the music, especially young Timorese, many of whom do not know the traditional music of their own country. In the first instance the book is for the Timorese, the children’s book a colouring book is designed in such a way to encourage young children to engage with their musical culture.
Question: On your first trip to East Timor back in April 2002, you noticed “an abundance of spontaneous music-making. We saw people walking along the roads, playing instruments and singing.” In your subsequent trips to East Timor you observed how much spontaneous music-making had dwindled. Why do you think there was a reduction in spontaneous music-making?
Question: Although there are some instruments that are common throughout all the districts of East Timor, there are other traditional instruments that are only found in particular areas. How did you go about researching this? Did you travel around and hold consultations in all the districts?
Question: Do you have a favourite traditional instrument from East Timor?
Question: The paintings, images, CD and DVD really bring the information in the book to life by showing traditional East Timorese music in action. How did the East Timorese people respond to your project, were they happy to be involved?
Question: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Question: What is your hope for the future of traditional music in East Timor?
Anything you’d like to add?
We humans don’t really own the land we live in, nor the culture which we are part of - we are custodians of both, and as such have a huge responsibility, to nurture and care for it and to keep it in tact to be able to pass it on to future generations.
The Timorese have a musical culture which is unique, but at present deeply hidden, the world is interested in it, and it deserves to be noticed and survive.
I am proud to be of service to the Timorese people through the work on this book. I hope this book will be a new inspiration for Timorese who want to study these traditions.