Treasures found by an expat living in Indonesia
I wonder what future generations of bule jaipong-lovers will call you - the Haile Selassie of Indonesian tapes? Without you most of this wealth of music most probably will be lost... wiped out by the nature of cassettes, who will not live forever, and most of the stuff will never be released on CD, that's for sure.Haile, Henk! :)And selamat.
You make an interesting point... The situation is pretty dire really, almost impossible to find these kind of cassettes now, I sometimes travel quiet far just to get my hands on say two tapes. There are quiet a few locals hunting to now (all of a sudden) but they are all small-time and they do not share, so, you are right, all this incredible music will just disappear.... Mostly the locals really don't care. Then there is what I shall call the "foreign problem) (and that might sound funny coming from an expat). You get these foreigners here that also hunt. Well, now they will hunt and find nothing but a few years back this really was a problem. For example we had a French guy living here, he was going to "preserve Sundanese music", he set up a website, shared something like 20 maybe 30 songs and thousands of somgtitles, not really what I would call preserving. I remember going to a big bambu music festival here in Bandung and many people coming up to me, telling me how this French guy was just emptying out every place that was still selling these cassettes, how because of this guy there was nothing to be found anymore (which was true I couldn't find anything back then either anymore), there was even talk by some folks from Sundanese music communities to find this guy and burn his house down, I kid you not. Well, in the end he left Indonesia, like they all do, and shipped out an estimated 10 to 15.000 cassettes. Before him some German guy shipped out an estimated 10.000 cassettes... Makes me think of the Louvre and their hug stolen art collection in a way..... I'm now busy with a project, with a few like-minded people, not going to say anything about it yet but it has to do with this.... I'm trying to "preserve" in this way, with this blog but it's not a real solution, links die, I've had computer virusses and have all my recordings wiped out, so there has to be a better way and we're working on that now....In Jakarta a small group of people are busy with a project to preserve Indonesian music but they only focus on vinyl, don't care about traditional music AT ALL and I suspect they only do it because vinyl is now the "trendy" thing to collect.....
Well, in a way this "preserving" thing is pretty Western, isn't it? Collecting, archives, bigger and more and more - where is the living culture, the NOW? But on the other hand - like the Residents once said: "Ignorance of your own culture is not considered cool." Without the knowledge of the tradtion, the Western styles just will blow away all that has been left before the colonialists came, and that goes way before the Dutch and the Muslims came to Indonesia.When these single rich people you talk about would actually DO something GOOD with their thousands of cassettes - instead of letting them rot in archives or preserve them only to the Western world - giving the Indonesian people back what they already lost, make joint-ventures with Indonesian universities in Yogyarta or Jakarta, there must be at least a bit of money from the government to preserve old culture. The palace in Yogya still shows snippets of Gamelan plays for tourists, and folklore is kind of a main attraction in Bali, right? But probably not the real thing, the raw stuff - it's only what is easy to digest, like everywhere.I'm curious about the project you're talking of. My sister has strong connections to people in Yogya, I've been in Indonesia two times, and have a deep admiration of the people and culture, although I don't understand next to nothing...Over the years I downloaded almost 600 of your tapes, mostly Jaipongan, which I like most from what you offer here. I always make a back-up, so they will never be lost...So far from Germany. Terima kasih for all the hard work!
well... there's actually A LOT going on now, jaipongan, tarawangsa, ketuk tilu, you name it, it's still very much alive just not in the big cities but in the villages, I know, I live in a small village... :) And you are welcome :)