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Javanese Gamelan and the West

Javanese Gamelan and the West

Volume: 3
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 215
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  • Book Info
    Javanese Gamelan and the West
    Book Description:

    In Javanese Gamelan and the West, gamelan performer and scholar Sumarsam explores the concept of hybridity in performance traditions that have developed in the context of Javanese encounters with the West. The book begins by looking at the "domestication" of Western music in Java during the colonial and postcolonial eras, including brass bands in gendhing mares court music and West Javanese tanjidor; Western elements in contemporary wayang puppet plays; and works by contemporary composers and a choreographer. In the second part of the book, Sumarsam turns to the presentation and representation of gamelan in the West, exploring cross-cultural perspectives on gamelan theory and discussing the presence of gamelan in Western World's Fairs and American academia. Framing his discussion within the perspectives of interculturalism and hybridization, Sumarsam demonstrates how Javanese performing arts have developed over time as a manifestation and reflection of overlapping networks of individual, social, and institutional actions and ideas. Sumarsam is a University Professor of Music at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java (University of Chicago Press, 1995) and numerous articles in English and Indonesian. As a gamelan musician and a keen amateur dhalang (puppeteer) of Javanese wayang puppet play, he performs, conducts workshops, and lectures throughout the US, Australia, Europe, and Asia.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-799-5
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Note on Orthography
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Encountering foreign cultures has been an inescapable part of life in Asia for many centuries. Indonesians have come into contact with many cultures, three of which—Hindu, Islamic, and Western—have had significant effects on the development of their own. Each encounter has had a different character, and a hybrid culture eventually formed.

    I use the term “hybrid” or “hybridity” to denote contact between cultures that bring about a wide register of multiple identity experiences and intensive cultural communication.¹ Hybridity is concerned with intercultural encounters in which people from different traditions or worldviews come into contact with one another, followed...

  8. Part One: Hybridity in Javanese Performing Arts

    • Chapter One Performing Colonialism
      (pp. 11-25)

      In the introduction, I laid out a general premise of cultural hybridity: cultural contact that brings about a wide register of multiple identities and intensive cultural communication. In this chapter, I will begin my discussion with musical hybridity. But before I do so, it is useful to make note of a few key points about hybridity. One can think of hybridity either “as a space of liminality between two worlds (neither here nor there but in between) that can just as easily be emancipatory or tragic or as a source of potential strength since cultural hybrids can free themselves from...

    • Chapter Two Performing the Nation-State
      (pp. 26-53)

      A 1996 newspaper headline in Surabaya proudly proclaimed the unveiling of a new statue in the Javanese city’s harbor: “Monjaya, the second largest after [the statue of Liberty].”¹ The inauguration ceremony for the monument—a thirty-meter-high figure of a navy colonel in dress uniform posed atop a twenty-nine-meter-high base—was marked by the sounding of the world’s largest gong, named Kyai Tentrem (The venerable sir tranquility). Five meters in diameter, with a one-meter-wide center knob, and weighing 2.4 tons, the gong had to be cut into three pieces for transport and welded back together upon arrival at its permanent location....

    • Chapter Three Opera Diponegoro
      (pp. 54-74)

      A very large reproduction of nineteenth-century painter Raden Saleh’s depiction of the arrest of Diponegoro (one of the most prominent Javanese heroes of the nineteenth century) by the Dutch extended across the back of the proscenium stage; contemporary painters added new figures on the right side to maintain the proportions. The play began with a monologue (in Indonesian) by narrator and choreographer Sardono W. Kusumo, introducing himself as Raden Saleh. Sardono addressed the audience: “In the era of democracy, it is important that I ask the opinion of many people . . . As Raden Saleh, should I wear a...

  9. Part Two: Gamelan as Intercultural Object

    • Chapter Four Deterritorializing and Appropriating Gamelan
      (pp. 77-114)

      Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, British colonial governor of Java from 1813 to 1816, published The History of Java in 1817.¹ This two-volume work contains a rich discourse on many aspects of Javanese life, complete with many lavish illustrations. The book celebrates Java for its pomp and glory, incorporating descriptions of court life, the royal family, performing arts, weaponry, architecture, antiquities, the life of the commoners, the animal kingdom, and more.

      It is commonly held that Raffles’s book is inextricably linked to his political goals. As James Boon suggests, the book “is designed to convey in print and illustration a concrete...

    • Chapter Five Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Gamelan Theory: Metaphorical Readings of Gamelan
      (pp. 115-138)

      In the 1960s, ethnomusicology was commonly defined as the study of music in culture, and Alan Merriam’s anthropological approach became the defining practice of the field.¹ Mantle Hood, however, emphasized the musicological side of ethnomusicology.² This anthropological-musicological divide is often described as the “Merriam-Hood split.” In subsequent studies, a number of ethnomusicologists attempted to find the points of intersection, causation, or homologies between Merriam’s three analytical levels—concept, behavior, and sound.³

      The works of Steven Feld, Marina Roseman, and Judith Becker, to mention just a few, offer a new trajectory in the search for these connections, bridging the anthropological-musicological split...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 139-142)

    I mentioned in the introduction that the nation-state, culture, and the performing arts are inextricably linked. This is especially true in Southeast Asia: throughout history, the state has been an important patron of the arts.¹ While the region has gone through interrelated chains of historical events—religious conversion, colonialism, and from revolution to independent state—it is inaccurate to define the state “as a finished product or structure that has existed in ‘traditional,’ ‘colonial,’ or ‘modern’ forms.”² Rather, the state is the result of temporally interrelated human, social, and institutional practices. The history of Southeast Asia should be understood as...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 143-168)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 169-176)
  13. Selected Discography
    (pp. 177-178)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-192)
  15. Index
    (pp. 193-202)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-203)