Music of Timor: an online exhibit for the ITLSC meeting at AAS 2017


Preservation of Endangered Forms of Fataluku Cultural Expression: Lipal fa'i (2012-13)

Many Hands also documented a series of rituals that accompany a traditional wedding, many of which include music. During the negotiation of the wedding contract, called valahana, women may sing vaihoho while they wait, making sticky rice cakes called maca-maca as they sing. After settling the bride price, the bride's family sings again as they pound unhulled rice in a large mortar (oron) in a ritual called orontafa (Many Hands International 2017, "lipal fa'i").

Preservation of Endangered Forms of Fataluku Cultural Expression: Musical Instruments (2012-13)

Researchers from MHI documented seven musical instruments used by Fataluku people, including six wind instruments and one percussion instrument. Wind instruments include a bamboo flute called oi-oil (played singly or doubly); two types of bamboo trumpets called keko and fara-fara; an oboe-like instrument called a moto me’n-me’n; a bamboo string-pull jaw harp called pepur; and a conch-shell trumpet called puhu-puhu. The lone percussion instrument in the collection is the kakal, a suspended wooden xylophone.

Preservation of Endangered Forms of Fataluku Cultural Expression: Sacred House Inauguration (2012-13)

Many Hands researchers documented two rituals that include music and dance performances. Le masule is one such ritual, held to "‘cleanse’ a newly built sacred house," (Many Hands International 2017, "rituals").  The ceremony includes vaihoho; the related orontafa, a "passionate call and response vaihoho," sung to the rhythm of large mortars and pestles pounding grain; and processions of women playing hand drums and gongs.

Recordings of Tetun and Bunaq vocal music in Covalima, Timor-Leste (2014, 2015)

The next research opportunity that presented itself was not for Lautém but for the Suai region of Covalima, at the opposite end of Timor-Leste.  During my 2012 research in Lautém I had met the staff of the NGO Timor Aid, and in 2014 they told me they had secured a grant from the Prince Claus Fund to document traditional culture in Covalima.  The focus of the project was certain communities facing drastic changes as a result of the “Tasi Mane project” to develop the south coast as a hub for petroleum processing and distribution.

The indigenous music of East Timor and its relationship to the social and cultural mores and lulik worldview of its autochthonous people (2015)

Drawing on years of fieldwork, including interviews, images, conversations, and more than 80 audio and audio-visual recordings, Dunlop’s thesis is without question the most substantial and detailed study of East Timorese music to date. In it, she seeks to address several fundamental questions about East Timorese music, its uses in East Timorese society, and its relationships to lulik principles and practices.