Deluxe digipack edition with trilingual booklet (written in Portuguese, English and Patois), featuring 142 coloured pages.
The musical universe of the Portuguese District of Malacca can be divided into two great categories: music performed by formally organized groups, generically designed as Portuguese Dance and specifically directed to an audience outside the district, and music performed by the district’s residents, in more or less formal contexts, for internal consumption, the so called “domestic music”. It is interesting to note that the imported Portuguese repertoire, without which the residents of the Portuguese District of Mallaca wouldn’t have earned a status of self-respect and national recognition, gained that status precisely at the expense of ancient hybrid Malay-Portuguese domestic traditions.
These days the Portuguese District is famous mainly because of its music and dance groups that perform in varied occasions, such as weekly touristic shows organized in the district, festivals organized by the Government, dinner parties sponsored by multinational companies, weekly or biweekly contracts associated with gastronomic festivals throughout Malasya and occasional trips to Macao. Through this process the community has reached a national visibility that far surpasses its current dimension. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the district’s residents have been trying to change, among the new generations, the negative stereotypes associated with their ethnicity, through models that lend them a prestigious social role. Ironically, by rescuing their Portuguese ethnicity, the district’s residents also establish themselves as old lineage Malayans, a position confirmed by their acceptance in the Government plans, such as the treasury bonds program manah Saham Nasional, once only accessible to Malayans and carefully selected small minority groups.
Comparing the texts sung in Malacca today and the Portuguese originals – most of them belonging to Joe Lazaroo’s collection – unveils an interesting process of oral transmission. In some cases the singers conjugate unknown words, gradually creating a new vocabulary, most of which has no meaning either in Portuguese or in Kristang language.
In other cases, when the original text has been forgotten, some words and even entire sentences are replaced by expressions in Kristang, regardless of whether their content has a connection to the meaning of the song or not. Besides every singer has their own version of each song.
Thus, after 20 years of orality, the texts, once imported, have been absorbed and introduced in the domestic context. This process has been welcomed and kept by the second and third generation of recipients and interpreters, which has originated even more variations to the texts (and, of course, my own transcriptions of the oral interpretations will add even more variations).
The situation is slightly different in the case of the more recent repertoire introduced by Pde. Sandim. Performed by a group that features a solo singer (Joe Lazaroo) and with few opportunities to integrate in the domestic context, to the present these texts are still pretty close to their original Portuguese version. However it is possible that in the future, after the intervention of several singers, these songs begin to slowly change, something you can already see in this record, namely when “Sub” Costa – Josephine’s nephew – performs with Joe Lazaroo.