Welcome to Song in the Sumatran Highlands! This digital project involves an interactive, interpretative multimedia ethnography and archive that documents and celebrates saluang, a prominent Minangkabau vocal genre accompanied by flute from the highlands of West Sumatra, Indonesia.
- Ethnographic: It draws on more than twenty years of ethnographic research by ethnomusicologist, Jennifer Fraser, in collaboration with local experts and performers.
- Archival: it is a repository for audio-visual media--including images, audio and video--collected over twenty years, supplemented by archival material and research reports. It involves over 40 hours of audio recordings represented in almost 400 individualized examples.
- Interpretative: it is not just a static repository with metadata of audiovisual materials but those materials are interpreted by placing them into context and presenting tools to users that reveal connections between data.
- Interactive: it provides a series of digital tools that enable user-designed experience exploring the data
A project like this is not the work of any single person, but a deeply collaborative effort. It involved the incredible generosity of performers and devotees during the research phase, especially the individuals over the years who facilitated the research, taking me to performances or working with me one-on-one to interpret material and texts. It has also involved a team of individuals involved in organizing the data and audiovisual materials and assisting in the construction of the site. Although I, Jennifer Fraser, have penned (or more accurately typed) many of the words that appear here and my voice comes through whenever the user encounters the pronoun “I” or “me,” I cannot make the claim of sole authorship and refuse older models that endorse such a representation. At best, I am a curator: I represent my own experiences and help bring those of all my collaborators to light. I encourage you to explore the roles of key contributors here.
The site documents 400+ song titles and their connections to places and performers, all activated in and through specific performances witnessed since 2003. There are over 400 individual renditions of songs and musical items documented with nearly that many audio recordings, 30+ video recordings, and hundreds of images. The site presents a number of interactive digital tools, including maps, timelines, network visualizations, and annotation of audio examples to allow users to learn song structures or find key features. Lyrics to songs are often presented in three languages: the original Minangkabau, and then Indonesian and English translations.
It is recommended that you start your journey on these pages, with the "Getting Oriented" module, but once you are done with this module, you get to decide where to navigate next. It is deliberately non-linear in construction, offering up instead a multitude of pathways and modalities through which you, the user, may engage the material. We offer some suggestions on how to navigate the site, pathways that you can follow, and key stories and features within. You can follow these or wander alone and deliberately get lost, following one connection to another, discovering the ways individual songs are enacted through performances or tracing key singers from one performance to the next. This website is built with the assumption that each user will follow a unique path and that no-one will or should visit every single page. Indeed, unlike a book, there is no single, logical path through all the material, but rather a multitude of avenues.
Finally, it is a work in progress. This is the June 30, 2021 Release. There will be periodic updates and additions of content, along with corrections as necessary. For now, you might encounter some pages not yet finished or connected to other material. Work still to come includes:
- Basic introduction to poetry
- Entering more lyrics
- Excerpts of interviews with performers
- Fleshed-out modules for teaching
- Annotation of more audio examples
- A later release will include Indonesian-language sections.
We welcome your feedback and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Begin your journey below by clicking on a title.