The Art of Grieving: West Sumatra's Worst Earthquake in Music Videos
The article illustrates how a series of commercial music videos released in the aftermath of West Sumatra's worst earthquake present powerful local encodings of the disaster that allow Minangkabau communities to comprehend, rationalise, come together, and survive the catastrophe. The analysis, supplemented with ethnographic interviews with musicians, lyricists, and record storeowners, illustrates how the music videos draw on and transform existing Minangkabau literary and musical conventions, philosophies, ideologies, and social habits. I explore how music, lyrics, and visual images were utilised to commemorate the events and places affected, convey grief, and elicit physical and fiscal aid from migrants. While the disaster has been musically articulated through an array of Minangkabau genres ranging from regionally specific traditions with limited audience bases to more mainstream popular styles, my interest in the art of grieving focuses on the emotional power of indigenous practices, particularly saluang jo dendang (flute with song). The article makes a contribution to the growing literature on the ethnomusicology of disasters, but offers a different approach by asking what music can tell us about the localised ways people experience, process, frame, and otherwise comprehend catastrophes through musical practices. I argue that such studies help us engage more fully with the cultural dimensions of disasters.
Fraser, Jennifer. 2013. "The Art of Grieving: West Sumatra's Worst Earthquake in Music Videos." Ethnomusicology Forum 22(2): 129-159.
Taylor & Francis
Disasters, Earthquakes, Record industry, Music videos, Minangkabau, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Saluang jo Dendang, Video compact discs, Islam