All posts tagged polemic

If Indonesian music wants to be recognized internationally, musicians need to undergo intensive training.”

So says Hari Sungkari, deputy of infrastructure at the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf). If he was making an official statement, then he was surely exceeding his brief.

Infrastructure is not about “training”, but about the easing of the paths of creative people. The eradication of petty bureaucratic procedures and corruption would be a good start.

Emotion, exploration, imagination, initiative, innovation, inspiration, intuition, trial and error, the willingness to take risks: these are among the characteristics of creative folk.

Can any of them be applied to government officials?

The world is fascinated at present by what Korea has done with K-Pop. Korean artists are going global, making millions of dollars, and they are surviving the internet era, while musicians in Indonesia are still confused about how to deal with piracy.”

What a confused statement!

Since when is a heavily choreographed pop group, picked for their looks by an avaricious Svengali, ‘creative’?

And of course musicians and film makers are confused about piracy: the government has done little to curb it.  And it is not unknown for bureaucrats from the ministry to leach off the efforts of creative people.

The creative economy has existed since long before SBY’s administration picked Mari Pangestu to head up the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. She became a laughing stock abroad when she declared nasi goreng to be an iconic Indonesian food and sent a recipe (maybe her grandmother’s) to every Indonesian embassy overseas.

There are as many varieties of fried rice as there are kitchens. By the same token, the number of folk engaged in making a living from their creativity is uncountable.

So, lets hear less omong-kosong from non-elected officials.

Co-ordinate with embassies abroad so that musicians don’t have to plan for up a year ahead in order to promote an album. Furthermore, don’t just work with the “top tier”: they already have their networks and can pay for themselves to go abroad.

There is some truly world class music being made here in Indonesia, yet it doesn’t get heard outside the country without the committed work and support of members of their ‘community’. They know that they can only expect hindrance rather than help from officials such as Hari Sungkari, and they deserve better appreciation.

This is not IndoJazzia’s Video of the Week. We are posting it as an example of creativity made in the moment, and it is all the better for it.

However, Hari did “voice his doubts that military training for musicians could be as successful in Indonesia, saying Indonesians lacked discipline.”

So if Indo-Pop is a non-starter, the answer is simple: give the Indonesian armed forces something useful to do, just as the Americans have.

If you’re going to Java Jazz this weekend ask yourself if you’re going for the creative or retro Indonesian jazz artists or the selebritis of pop, reggae, Japanese ska, alternative pop, ethnic-infused pop-rock and sentimental R’n’B.

IndoJazzia won’t be there because to travel across town through heavy traffic and spending the equivalent of the statutory monthly basic salary in order to hear very little creative jazz from anyone, including familiar musicians doing what we’ve seen several times before, and then running the gauntlet of ‘pirate’ taxis – “No meter, Mister” – in order to get back home does not appeal.

What does is the jam session tomorrow night (4th March) with ace guitarists Agam Hamzah (Ligro +) and Yuri Jo. It’s at Paviliun 28, Jl. Petogogan No.25, at 8pm.

And our point?

Big is not necessarily better, and purloining the word ‘jazz’ for purely commercial reasons is a slap in the face for those truly creative Indonesian jazz musicians who are not invited to sit at the “top tier” table.

Update 4th MarchMusic for the Elite?

Tickets for Java Jazz are still available for Rp.550,000 (US$41) for a daily pass. To attend special shows featuring Robin Thicke, David Foster, Chris Botti and Sting, festival goers have to purchase an additional pass, with prices ranging from Rp.350,000 to Rp.2.5 million.

Festival goers are not allowed to take in their own food or drink … and the last time IndoJazzia was there (2014) there was no food for vegetarians.

One positive note is that a special Busway route is available between Blok M and the festival site until 2am.

Note: If Java Jazz were to change its name to Indonesia’s Music Festival, then we won’t have to repost this next year.