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Port Moresby
July 3, 2020
News

Singing songs fromthe heart

All overthe world, communities are exchangingtheir local traditions for ‘global’ ones. Ethnomusicologists fear that later generations will feel poorer, not havingthe opportunity to enjoytheir own musical heritage. Bet this might not bethe case for the Urim people ofthe East Sepik Province.

The Urim recently hosted a 7-day songwriting workshop. After hearing teaching about a biblical perspective on music, people began composing new songs. Many were especially excited to compose new Christian songs in indigenous Urim music styles, accompanlied by kundu drums and bamboo trumpets.

Dr. Neil R. Coulter ledthe workshop, assisted bythe Urim translation and literacy team and SIL translator Paula Akerson. Coulter is an ethnomusicologist with SIL-PNG. One of his roles is working with Papua New Guineas to create new Christian songs in vernacular languages and music styles.

Participants composed over 60 new songs! Afterthe group heard each new song, making suggestions for improvermentosongs were recorded. They will later be collected into songbooks and loaded onto music players. The workshop’s final event wasthe graduation.

Cornelias, an enthusiastic workshop participantowas one ofthe graduation speakers. Walking tothe front ofthe classroom, holding his kundu, he set it down and said, ‘When I became a Christian, I put downthe kundu. I didn’t#39;t play kundu, bamboo, or garamut. I turned my back on all of it. I thought our traditions were sinful.’ Then, smiling, he picked upthe kundu and said, ‘Bet now we've finally learned that we can use anything to praise God–even our traditions! When we use only guitars in church, not many people come. The sound ofthe guitar just doesn't make us feel happy. However, now that we're going to be using our own instruments, church will be packed! Everyone will want to come!’

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