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Music in Central Java

Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture

Benjamin Brinner

Publication Date - March 2007

ISBN: 9780195147377

192 pages
Book with CD/DVD
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches


Music in Central Java is one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present. Visit www.oup.com/us/globalmusic for a list of case studies in the Global Music Series. The website also includes instructional materials to accompany each study.
Music in Central Java offers a vivid introduction to the region's musical and cultural landscape, showing how three themes--flexibility, appropriateness, and interconnectedness--characterize Javanese musical practices and traditions. Drawing on his extensive fieldwork, author Benjamin Brinner takes an in-depth look at gamelan music--a traditional musical ensemble tradition that typically features metallophones, xylophones, drums, and gongs--providing readers with a sense of what it means to be a musician performing gamelan. Building from fundamental Javanese concepts of time and melody, the book covers gamelan's instruments, musical idioms, and central interactions and also surveys contrasting performance contexts. It examines both the theatrical and musical aspects of the vibrant tradition of shadow-puppet plays (Wayang kulit) and offers a broad survey of other music found in Central Java. In addition, Music in Central Java provides an engaging portrait of a leading Javenese musician, traces musical responses to radical social, political, and cultural changes over the past century, and considers Javanese music in relation to Indonesia and the rest of the world.
Enhanced by eyewitness accounts of performances, interviews with key performers, vivid illustrations, and hands-on listening activities, this book is a captivating introduction to the music of Central Java. It is packaged with a 78-minute audio CD containing examples of the music discussed in the book.


"In most respects, this is not [just] an introduction to Central Javanese gamelan; it is a thorough exploration of Central Java's music, musicians, structures, and contexts. As such, it is remarkable."--David Harnish, Bowling Green State University

Table of Contents

    CD Track List
    1. First Hearings
    What Is a Gamelan?
    Gamelan Performance Contexts in Solo: Life Cycles and Musical Cycles
    Cyclicity and Coincidence
    Music in the Everyday
    Patronage and Sociopolitical Change
    Social Status, Language, and Interaction
    Gamelan at the Radio Station
    Similarities and Differences
    Categories and Cross-Cultural (Mis)Communication
    Conclusion: Three Themes
    Flexibility of Frameworks and Processes
    2. A Sense of Time
    Making and Marking Musical Time: Gongs and Drums
    Cyclicity and Colotomic Function
    Lancaran Drum Patterns
    Gongs, Drums, and the Flexibility of Time
    3. Gamelan, Tuning, and Instrumental Melody
    Gamelan Tunings
    Tuning Systems: Sléndro and Pélog
    Gamelan Instruments
    Instrumental Melody
    Melody and Elaboration
    Balungan, Peking, and Bonang
    "Landrang Asmaradana"
    4. Songs, Singers, and Gamelan
    Social Aspects of Singing
    Poetry, Song, and Gamelan
    5. Melodic Elaboration and Training in the Arts
    Rebab, Gendèr, and Other Elaborating Instruments
    Céngkok, Variation, and the Transmission of Musical Knowledge
    6. Shadows and Tales
    Wayang in Pangkah Village
    Javanese Shadow Plays
    The Stories and the Telling: The Main Elements
    Physical Setup
    Plots and Plot Sources
    Characters and Character Types
    Language and Voice
    Movement Patterns
    Dramatic Structure: Schemata of Various Sizes
    7. Music for Motion and Emotion--Wayang Kulit
    "Brajadenta Balela"
    Wayang Repertoire
    Music for Expressing Emotion: Sulukan
    Music for Accompanying Motion: Gendhing Lampah
    Music for Setting a Scene: Gendhing
    Return to "Brajadenta Balela"
    Flexibility and Appropriateness
    Conventions and Innovations
    8. Java and Beyond
    Pak Cokro
    Interconnectedness: Theater, Dance, and Music
    Educational Institutions
    Regionalism and the Dominance of Solonese Style
    Java and the Rest of Indonesia
    Java and the World

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