Gamelan is the first study of the music of Java and the development of the gamelan to take into account extensive historical sources and contemporary cultural theory and criticism. An ensemble dominated by bronze percussion instruments that dates back to the twelfth century in Java, the gamelan as a musical organization and a genre of performance reflects a cultural heritage that is the product of centuries of interaction between Hindu, Islamic, European, Chinese, and Malay cultural forces.
Drawing on sources ranging from a twelfth-century royal poem to the writing of a twentieth-century nationalist, Sumarsam shows how the Indian-inspired contexts and ideology of the Javanese performing arts were first adjusted to the Sufi tradition and later shaped by European performance styles in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He then turns to accounts of gamelan theory and practice from the colonial and postcolonial periods. Finally, he presents his own theory of gamelan, stressing the relationship between purely vocal melodies and classical gamelan composition.
In recent years, girls' and mixed-gender ensembles have challenged the tradition of male-dominated gamelan performance. The change heralds a fundamental shift in how Balinese think about gender roles and the gender behavior taught in children's music education. It also makes visible a national reorganization of the arts taking place within debates over issues like women's rights and cultural preservation. Sonja Lynn Downing draws on over a decade of immersive ethnographic work to analyze the ways Balinese musical practices have influenced the processes behind these dramatic changes. As Downing shows, girls and young women assert their agency within the gamelan learning process to challenge entrenched notions of performance and gender. One dramatic result is the creation of new combinations of femininity, musicality, and Balinese identity that resist messages about gendered behavior from the Indonesian nation-state and beyond. Such experimentation expands the accepted gender aesthetics of gamelan performance but also sparks new understanding of the role children can and do play in ongoing debates about identity and power.
The Balinese gamelan, with its shimmering tones, breathless pace, and compelling musical language, has long captivated musicians, composers, artists, and travelers. Here, Michael Tenzer offers a comprehensive and durable study of this sophisticated musical tradition, focusing on the preeminent twentieth-century genre, gamelan gong kebyar.
Combining the tools of the anthropologist, composer, music theorist, and performer, Tenzer moves fluidly between ethnography and technical discussions of musical composition and structure. In an approach as intricate as one might expect in studies of Western classical music, Tenzer's rigorous application of music theory and analysis to a non-Western orchestral genre is wholly original. Illustrated throughout, the book also includes nearly 100 pages of musical transcription (in Western notation) that correlate with 55 separate tracks compiled on two accompanying compact discs.
The most ambitious work on gamelan since Colin McPhee's classic Music in Bali, this book will interest musicians of all kinds and anyone interested in the art and culture of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Bali.
How do musicians know what they know? This study is a new approach to the nature of musical competence. Using the intricate collaborative structure of gamelan—Javanese ensemble music—as a point of departure, Knowing Music, Making Music lays the foundation for a comprehensive theory of musical competence and interaction.
Using illustrative examples from a variety of traditions, Benjamin Brinner first examines the elements and characteristics of musical competence, the different kinds of competence in a musical community, the development of multiple competences, and the acquisition and transformation of competence through time. He then shows how these factors come into play in musical interaction, establishing four intersecting theoretical perspectives based on ensemble roles, systems of communication, sound structures, and individual motivations. These perspectives are applied to the dynamics of gamelan performance to explain the social, musical, and contextual factors that affect the negotiation of consensus in musical interaction. The discussion ranges from sociocultural norms of interpersonal conduct to links between music, dance, theater, and ritual, and from issues of authority and deference to musicians' self-perceptions and mutual assessments.
Much more than a portrait of artists making music together, this book brings together a variety of cognitive approaches and a wide range of examples from many cultures to suggest ways of integrating our knowledge of music making both in individual cultures and crossculturally.
For centuries the gamelan beleganjur percussion orchestra has been an indispensable part of political, social, and spiritual life on the island of Bali. Traditionally associated with warfare and rituals for the dead, the music has recently given rise to an exciting new musical style featured in contests that are attended by thousands. Ethnomusicologist Michael Bakan draws us into these intensely competitive events, in which political corruption, conflicting notions of identity, and irrepressible creativity rupture the smooth surface of cultural order.
Building from his own experiences as a beleganjur drummer, Bakan also takes us inside a distant musical world and into the lives of musicians connecting across vast cultural divides. Rich with musical examples, photographs, and an accompanying compact disc, Music of Death and New Creation is an unprecedented exploration of how music embodies and shapes life in contemporary Indonesia and beyond.