Subject: Transcript: Music Binds Australia and East Timor

Australian Broadcasting Corporation December 21, 2001 -transcript-

EAST TIMOR: Music binds Australia and East Timor

As East Timor heads towards full independence in May, a great deal is being done to re-build the territory's shattered infrastructure, and creating durable political institutions - but the focus of two Australians is to make sure that East Timor also has plenty of music.Steve Blundell and Terry Goonan repair old and broken guitars and send them to be distributed among the music mad youth of East Timor. Anita Barraud went along to their Melbourne workshop, accompanied by East Timorese musician Amilcar Araujo. If you have guitars to donate to "Guitars for East Timor" contact Steve on (0407) 851 619.

Presenter/Interviewer: Anita Barraud Speakers: Steve Blundell, Terry Goonan and Amilcar Araujo, musicians.

Sound effects tuning guitars...

BARRAUD: Now Steve, you started this operation - how did it begin?

BLUNDELL: I just went over there, I went over to Timor because I'm retired and I have carpentry skills, and I thought I might be able to help out rebuilding Timor - which - I thought was full of wonderful benevolent ideals. I was at an institution up at a village called Darai training kids in carpentry. I took a banjo over with me, because I play banjo, and the kids just couldn't get enough of it. I took it over there to entertain myself in the evenings and I had a roomful of kids everynight - they just wanted to play the banjo. And I noticed they were very musically gifted. And I made a lot of friends over there, I promised them all I'd bring them back a guitar. This just started off as a fairly small scale operation, but it's grown into what it is today. There's 120 in Timor now, there's about another 70 ready to go early in the new year. So the skies the limit really.

BARRAUD: So where do you get the guitars?

BLUNDELL: They're all donated from various sources. People like Terry that sort of...

GOONAN: Got connections!

BLUNDELL: He's a musician himself and he has connections throughout the music industry, and I put some brochures together, some fliers and they went out on the local paper. It's just spreading from that - word of mouth now. That's where it comes from - yeah.

GOONAN: We met at the 'Old Time Fiddlers Convention', which is a small folk festival. And I saw his flyer. And I thought - well - I thought I'd better get involved. I've had an interest anyway in East Timorese affairs, I've been to a couple of demonstrations.

BARRAUD: A heap of old folkies obviously?

BLUNDELL: Folkies if you don't mind - enough of this 'old' business!

GOONAN: I'll plead guilty to being old...laughs

BARRAUD: So Terry what kind of guitars come through your doors to be mended?

GOONAN: Ah we get all sorts. Steve got hold of a whole lot from Jacaranda Music in South Australia - Chinese and falling to bits - they were just gonna put them in the rubbish tip. They sent them over to us - They're not all as good as the one I've shown you there - it's in mint condition.

BARRAUD: Yes, let's have a look at that one - have a little play - anybody want to?

ARAUJO: Yes, I'll play a bit - songs we play in Timorese - I always have to sing this song for them - in Tetum

Sings Bob Marley song "No Woman No Cry" ....

BARRAUD: Reggae goes to Timor! Now the guitar is important to East Timorese I presume because of the Portuguese influence - Can you talk a little bit about the particular identity of East Timorese music.

ARAUJO: The guitar is the main thing. Since we have been colonised by - 400 years a Portuguese colony so they came with their music they call Fado - it's like a traditional Portuguese music. And they use the guitar..

BARRAUD: That's very sad music.

ARAUJO: That's very sad music, yeah. That's because Portuguese when they came from Portugal to Timor, they always bring - you know they left their wives and their kids, and the only things they can play to remind (themselves of) their relatives in Portugual is by the songs. So like very sad songs, very romantic songs that's grabbed Timorese.

BARRAUD: There's a tradition in East Timor of hand made guitars I understand?

BLUNDELL: I have seen some absolute 'classics' They're very rustic, they're workable, they're carving them out of everything - small ukeleles, large full bodied guitars, some very weird and wonderful machines. I saw one with five strings - so they made a facsimile thereof - and they were playing it quite nicely!

BARRAUD: And I suppose one of the forces for change and for reconciliation and for unity is music in East Timor?

ARAUJO: I left Timor when I was probably six, five years old, and I went to Portugal. My parents always said "you have to learn Timorese culture" and to learn Timorese culture - the main thing is you have to learn music and to devote our fight as well - even to devote fight it has to be with music -you can devot about culture, about fighting. So through all the years - these twenty five years we've been fighting for our independence - always the music always back us - you can express your freedom, you know This is what I learnt from being a Timorese and my culture as well.

BLUNDELL: From my experience - I guess we come from musical backgrounds and understand that and know the pleasure it gives us to play music and watching Amilcar play there and watching the pleasure he gets out of doing his music, and I think it's a common bond. I'm glad to be a small part of it, and I want to be an ongoing part of it too. So I assure the Timorese people that I will be collecting guitars for as long as it's physically possible to do so - look we'll be there for the long haul so give me a ring if you want a guitar and we'll see what we can do.

BARRAUD: I know your preferred instrument is a banjo, but you can pick a few notes and chords

BLUNDELL: I haven't got a plectum with me and umm - I'm a banjo player not a musician I keep telling people that ...I do Irish picking but...

Plays guitar..clapping

Back to December menu

World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from