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Matasora World Music Festival, Paper-making and the Somprong!

Bandung is the capital of West Java and between Matasora World Music Festival, an introduction to traditional paprer-makng and a musical instrument workshop located in the hills it’s safe to say I had a rather magical time there.

The Matasora World Music Festival was incredible! I performed on Saturday evening with KunoKini playing ‘Console Me’ for the first time to showcase what I’ve been working on with KunoKini. The song is inspired by some of my experiences in Palestine and Israel with each verse conveying the perspective of a different person involved in or affected by the conflict. The closing act of Saturday night were Electric Fields - their performance blew my mind!

On Sunday morning we made our way to the foothills of Bandung to a small village completely surrounded by bamboo, hills, blue skies and wonderful people. We met Abba (father in Sudanese) who makes traditional Sudanese instruments and learned about the craftsmanship and tradition with each of the instruments he makes - which are many. The scale is linked with the gamelan tradition and it’s hauntingly beautiful. Myself and KunoKini are writing a song using the Sudanese scale and rhythm combined with Irish traditional rhythms but more on that later. After trying some instruments I made could make a sound on the somprong. An instrument made from bamboo which is played using the circular breathing technique. My breathing isn’t entirely circular just yet but my connection with the instrument was so strong that I decided it must come with me. Thank you Abba for all of the musical adventures to come!

We walked for ten minutes through the hills and arrived at our next workshop - traditional paper making. In the style of traditional paper making we were introduced to the artist only uses wood from one tree named the saeh. In this technique the bark of stripped and the wood split open only the first layer of the wood is used but the solid part is not wasted instead turned into a saluan - flute. It takes thirteen layers of saeh tamped together to make one sheet of paper and though the process is long and takes a lot of strength, I found it a therapeutic task and of course the reward is in the results. In Sulawesi people make clothes from the saeh using the same process as in paper-making but instead of thirteen layers there can be as many as twenty - I’ll have to go to Sulawesi to find out.

I hope this gives you a glimpse of the rich diversity in music, art and culture that is present in Indonesia and in fact this blog post only describes the traditions and diversity in West Java. There’s much more to explore!

danielle carr