UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Recording and documenting music for the Heritage Inventory of Suai-Camenaça Pettigrew, Aaron


From 2014-2016, the Timorese NGO Timor Aid conducted a multi-disciplinary research project in Timor-Leste to “[document] the cultural heritage of the peoples of Suai-Camenaça and surrounds who will be affected by the Tasi Mane Petroleum Infrastructure Project” (Timor Aid n.d.), scheduled to take place between 2011-2030 along the south coast (República Democrática de Timor-Leste 2011, 141). The Heritage Inventory sought to “document local culture and traditions including language, music, cultural geography, biodiversity, and textiles... before these practices are disrupted, changed, or lost as a result of this mega-infrastructure project” (Timor Aid n.d.). In 2015, ethnomusicologist Philip Yampolsky led a small team of music researchers who traveled to Suai-Camenaça to document traditional music for the Heritage Inventory. The team visited several musical events over a period of 58 days to create audio and video recordings and to create written documentation from direct observation. This thesis presents the research and findings of the music research team. It includes an overview of the history and geography of Timor-Leste and a brief introduction to the scope of the Tasi Mane Petroleum Infrastructure Development Project. A review of previous music research conducted in Timor-Leste places the work of the music research team in its scholarly context. Findings are presented alongside detailed documentation of the research methodology, and they include several musical practices and genres that had not previously been documented in scholarly work. The author uses Catherine Grant’s Music Vitality and Endangerment Framework (Grant 2014) to analyze the findings and create a preliminary assessment of the vitality of traditional musical practices in Suai-Camenaça, and this assessment is discussed in the context of broader scholarly debate concerning endangerment and preservation in ethnomusicological research.

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