Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Cover of Folk and Pop Sounds of Sumatra
12" x 16", oil on canvas, 2014
"I’m starting off 2014 with what I believe is a pretty exceptional rarity. Certainly it’s one of the earliest commercial recordings of regional music from the highlands of Western Sumatra made by the Minangkabau people, known as Urang Minang in the local language. With most of the local recording industry at the time based in Java and Singapore, we are lucky that music of the Minang, a matrilineal, Islamic culture primarily based in the Minangkabau Highlands, was set to shellac."

Such is the opening paragraph of an article on traditional Sumatran music, written by Jonathan Ward for Excavated Shellac at the start of 2014. The article is a contextual analysis of the recording Tandjoeng Sani by the female singer Rapioen. The singer and two musicians that accompany the recording hail from Bukittinggi (formerly known as Fort de Kock). The song was recorded in 1938. Here then, towards the end of 2014, is an illustration for that song. The source image I found clicking through links, starting at the comment section of the Rapioen web-page. The music of the Minang people is a rather appropriate topic at the end of a year in which I was more than casually interested in matriarchy in history. That this recording then too, comes from an Islamic tradition, further informs, and complicates, historical issues I've studied this year. No less than eight titles (and perhaps more) in this year's top 100 are by female Islamic singers. 

Alright then, dear readers, time for a final push. There are just a handful of paintings left to do, to complete the series. In a week or two I'll be posting the list and announcing an exhibition where all hundred paintings will be shown, accompanied by all this year's writings on this stage, as well as the customary seven-hour loop of the prerecorded one hundred songs.

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