Balinese gamelan (Indonesia)

Sustainability refers to at least three broad areas for music in Bali:

  • maintenance of repertoires and their performance practices;
  • continuity of collective memory of music and dance;
  • and the ecology of the music industry, especially in relation to provision of instruments and other artefacts of the performing arts.

This case study covers many different types of music and ensembles; positions on the aesthetics of music and dance; religion; philosophical interpretations of music and dance; a complex music theory system; intricate socio-cultural practices and beliefs; aspects of cultural maintenance, revival and documentation; the influence of tourism; manufacture of instruments, dance costumes and performance paraphernalia; the contributions of non-Balinese scholars and researchers; a history of genre development, decline and revival; the roles and significances of recording and media industries; political policy; and pedagogy for the teaching and learning of music and dance.

What is essential to understand about Balinese music and dance in the context of this project (ie. a focus on sustainability) is that Balinese performing arts, in line with Balinese plastic arts, exist in a climate of ongoing development. New forms of music and dance, and the instrumental ensembles to support them, are continually evolving. At the same time, forms of music and dance decline in popularity, and as their perfomers die, they pass out of collective memory. There is evidence that this causes concern for many musicians (see Ramseyer, 2009) and that these musicians work proactively to reclaim traditions of music and dance under threat of decline or loss (eg the work of I Wayan Sinti described in Eiseman, 1990). Often what is seen by Balinese and non-Balinese people as ‘traditional’ is in fact a relatively new type of ensemble and its repertoire. This is exemplified by the style of music and dance known as kebyar, and the ensemble for performing these, gamelan gong kebyar, which evolved in the opening decades of the twentieth century in north Bali and subsequently spread in popularity to the southern parts of the island, to the point where currently kebyar groups dominate entries in the annual Pesta Kesenian Bali (PKB – Bali Arts Festival). Currently, kebyar, is seen to be the most typical form of gamelan (a generic term referring loosely to any type of ensemble) with an established sense of authenticity, and its own canonic repertoire.

In Bali, music and dance are learnt implicitly alongside extensive explicit learning and teaching activity. Many children have their first learning experiences through being with or near older children or adults during rehearsals or performances. Jegog musician I Ketut Suwentra, from Jembrana, confirmed this when he stated that ‘I just heard my father . . . (he) never taught me’ (IKS), an experience in learning also mentioned by I Dewa Berata, from Pengosekan: ‘my father would be rehearsing and I would be beside him’ (IDB). There is an expectation that all members of the community can and will participate in religiously contextualised performances of music and dance, so opportunities for children to learn through observation at and contribution to religious events is normal and regular. Explicit teaching of music and dance, while it takes place in some school programs, is for the most part delivered by teachers at village level – teachers set up their own classes or are employed by a village, part of a village, or a music group – the outcomes of which include the ability to perform for religious events, entry in a lomba (performance contest), performance in public events (e.g. a festival), tourist performances (on a paid basis), or production of a recording (CD or DVD) (McIntosh, 2006).

Teachers are usually performers in their own right, or performers who have ceased public appearances. Cokorda Ngurah Suyadnya, from Ubud, who runs a wide range of music and dance performing groups, commented that he uses many teachers, but always tries to utilise local musicians, especially those from within his groups. Some teachers have academic qualifications (mostly from ISI), but this is a minority – there is a strongly held belief that academic qualifications are not necessary for being a good musician and teacher, and a stand-off exists between academically qualified musicians/teachers and village trained ones. One teacher, I Wayan Mandra, from Sanur, commented that ‘the desire to learn is important . . . so that the pieces of my childhood are not forgotten . . . . (and) music from the past can be passed on’ (IWM). While this gives the impression of robustness of teaching and learning, some musicians note that various types of Balinese music are not as easily or strongly taught/learnt. For example, dalang I Made Gender Sukadana commented that the learning of wayang kulit was problematic as ‘just a few people (learn) . . . . because (this) is not popular now, not strong . . . . (there is) too much choice, television . . . a long time ago wayang is very strong . . . now it is changed (and) it can be difficult now to find a dalang’ (IMGS). Similarly, I Dewa Berata commented that ‘(young people) might think gamelan is not modern, so by the time they are teenagers they are more interested in pop music . . . in villages this is very apparent’ (IDB). There is no formal system of music teacher training, rather musicians move from being learners/performers into the role of teacher as necessary. In the case of gamelan teaching, it is usual for a teacher to be able to play all the parts in a gamelan so that these can be modelled for members of a group. Teachers are often expected to be the creators of new pieces/dances for the group/s they are teaching.

Strongly reified teaching practices exist, which are learnt (in what seems to a subliminal way) by students through participation, and are subsequently used by them when they take up teaching. This means that successful teaching methods are emphatically in place and are perpetuated, even if this is implicit and not made explicit. Tangible aspects of learning and teaching, such as ability to perform, are balanced by strong ideological systems linking music and dance intangibly to religious and social beliefs and practices, and to a sense of group ethos. I Dewa Berata noted this as an outcome of teaching/learning: ‘teaching gamelan is important not only for teaching how to pay a particular piece, but there are many positive aspects that I’ve experienced, like the feeling of unity and learning how to accept different attitudes, so that different people . . . . can all come together as one’ (IDB).

Gamelan can be translated as ‘ensemble.’ Researchers differ on how many types of gamelan there are in Bali, some stating that there about 25, while others state that there are up to 40. Balinese gamelan exist in a range of types, each one given its own qualifying name (often one type of gamelan can have more than one qualifying name; spellings of names is often inconsistent). They appear across the island, but there are regional preponderances: gamelan jegog are prevalent in western Bali (due to the presence there of the large bamboos needed to construct these instruments); gamelan selonding are prevalent in eastern Bali; gamelan gong gede are prevalent in central and eastern Bali. These three types of gamelan are also used in other parts of the island, and it is important not to assume regional exclusivity of use for any one type. The smallest gamelan can have as few as 2 players (a two member gamelan gender wayang – used for accompanying wayang kulit [shadow puppet plays]), while a 3 member gamelan, called gamelan rindik (sometimes called gamelan tinklik), consisting of two bamboo rindik and one suling (bamboo flute), is also found. From these small numbers, gamelan increase in size to the largest ensembles, such as gamelan semar pegulingan and gamelan gong gede, both of which can have more than 30 players. A full gamelan gong kebyar, by default the most common form of gamelan to be seen in Bali, numbers approximately 25 players. It is necessary to point out that numbers are flexible, and that not all instruments of an ensemble need to be performed at the one time; a gamelan gong kebyar could function, albeit with reduced textural and dynamic effect, with as few as a dozen players. There are known methods for deciding which instruments can be omitted from an ensemble if a full complement of performers is not available

Types of gamelan reflect three significant aspects of Balinese music: material; function; tuning. The cases of gamelan instruments are generally made of hard timber (nangka [jackfruit] is the most common for this), though some use bamboo, with keys of wood, bamboo, iron, or bronze. Bronze keyed gamelan are the most usual. Wooden gamelan include gamelan gambang (McPhee, 1966). Bamboo gamelan include gamelan rindik/tinklik and gamelan jegog (Rai, 2001). Gamelan tektekan combine instruments of bamboo and wood; gamelan joged (or pejogedan) those of bamboo and metal (McPhee, 1966; Rai, 2001; Atmadja, 2010). Iron gamelan are represented by gamelan selonding (Ramseyer, 2009), and bronze gamelan by many ensemble types, including gamelan angklung (Ornstein, 1971), gamelan arja (McPhee, 1966), gamelan batel gender wayang (Bandem, 2001), gamelan beleganjur (Bakan, 1999), gamelan gender wayang (Hobart, 1989; Kitley, 1995; Gray, 2011), gamelan gong gede (Made Hood, 2010a, 2010b), gamelan gong kebyar (Tenzer, 2000), gamelan luang (also called gamelan saron) (Sudirana, 2009), gamelan pelegongan (McPhee, 1966), gamelan semar pegulingan (Mantle Hood, 1990), and gamelan semaradana (McGraw, 1999/2000; Vitale, 2002). Gamelan gambuh are based around a group of long, vertical bamboo futes supported by small drums and bronze-keyed instruments (Ariyanto, 1985; Formaggia, 2000). Gamelan genggong use only small, bamboo mouth-harps (Rai, 2001). The gamelan terompong beruk mixes bronze instruments with one wooden one. Most instrumental ensembles include drums and various sized gongs; in many, rebab (two-stringed, bowed instrument) and suling (vertical bamboo flute) are optional extras. Numbers of rebab and suling in diferent ensembles vary depending on availability of players and/or the artistic decisions of group leaders. The gamelan listed above are all instrumental ensembles; there is also gamelan suara which is a form of vocal performance ensemble with no instruments (Dibia, 2000); this is usually heard in performances of Kecak, a performance genre in which stories from the Ramayana are presented accompanied by the chanting of a large group of men (recently, Kecak performed by female groups has begun in some areas of Bali). This listing of types of gamelan includes types that exist in very small numbers (eg gamelan trompong beruk, which seems only to be used in the village of Bangle, in eastern Bali (see CD Terompong beruk, Bali: the gamelan of Bangle) to those with island-wide use (eg gamelan gong kebyar).

Each of these gamelan has a dedicated/core role within Balinese performing arts. However, it must be noted that while a gamelan’s core role exists, in many cases the one type of gamelan is used for multiple purposes, and it is not unusual for the repertoire of one type of gamelan to be adapted for performance on another type. In fact, this is a mainstay of music aesthetics in Bali, and creators of new pieces of music demonstrate their abilities by referring to various gamelan styles in their kreasi baru (new creations) and/or moving sections of pieces of music from one type of gamelan (and its linked tuning and style of playing) to another. Table 1 shows a basic gamelan type – role framework.

Balinese music uses a complex theoretical system based on differences between tuning systems, and possible pitch subsets within these. Different types of gamelan use specific tunings and pitch subsets of them, thus tuning and pitch subset are linked to different types of music and the roles and meanings ascribed to them. There are two tuning systems: pelog (seven tones) and slendro (five tones). Pelog appears in full on gamelan luang, gamelan semar pegulingan, gamelan selonding, and gamelan semaradana. Other pelog sets use only a pitch subset of pelog. Gamelan gong gede , gamelan gong kebyar, and gamelan pelegongan use a five tone subset of pelog. Slendro is the tuning of gamelan angklung and gamelan wayang kulit, and other gamelan types that incorporate gender wayang instruments.

Musicians have significance in Balinese communities. As music and dance are required for the efficacy of religious events, and as performance (similarly to all arts forms in Bali) is considered an offering to Balinese gods, the ability to perform as instrumentalist, vocalist or dancer, or to be a creator of music or dance (there is a growing concept of composition in the Western sense; much Balinese music is re-fashioned from existing music) is seen as one way an individual can contribute to religious stability, and for an individual to contribute to group religious ethos and activity. Unlike other aspects of Balinese life, caste membership (there are four castes with linguistic differences involving the three levels of the Balinese language, high – middle – low, and socially expected protocols for interaction between people of different castes) does not seem to influence music/dance activity (i.e. mores governed by caste membership are seen not to apply in music/dance contexts – although caste-governed societal practices are changing in general). Music and dance are strongly linked to community identity and activity. For religiously important performance expectations, people may stay away from work or other duties (although this is also changing) (Sanger, 1989).

The relationship between musician and community results from religious expectations, and from a community life-style ethos in which an individual person makes her/his contribution through her/his own part. This refers to many aspects of life – whether preparing food for a temple festival, assisting in the manufacture of cremation paraphernalia, taking part in construction and maintenance of village structures, being in a cremation procession, working alongside others in agricultural work, or performing as a member of a music/dance group. This is based on an historical tradition that cannot be dated. That much music and dance activity is related to, and therefore driven by, religious obligation was commented on by numerous interviewees. For example, Cokorda Ngurah Suyadna stated that music will continue ‘because of (the) link with upacara [religious ceremonies] . . . as long as we have ceremony in Bali, I’m sure that gamelan is going to be staying’ (CNS). I Made Gender Sukadana concurred with this: ‘when there is ceremony there must be wayang’ (IMGS), also noting that this art form always has its religious connotations, even when it is performed for tourists. Some types of Balinese music are still only performed in religious settings. This is the case with gamelan selonding, as I Wayan Sudirana noted: ‘(gamelan selonding is) only for temple ceremonies . . . and players must be mawinten (purified) to play on these instruments’ (IWS). Alongside religiously influenced musician-community relationship, the presence of high levels of tourist activity in parts of Bali creates another type of relationship, in which performance is seen as a way to demonstrate local pride in performance traditions, to present village-based versions of music and dance (sometimes these are unique to specific sites), to attract tourists to certain areas of Bali, and to contribute to the financial needs of a village or village division (numerous examples exist of village groups using performances for tourists to raise money for local projects, such as the building of community buildings, purchase of new gamelan instruments, repairs to or replacements of costumes, etc.). In addition to these agendas, some musicians utilise tourist performance as the means of keeping a tradition alive. This is the case with the work of I Ketut Suwentra in reclaiming and maintaining gamelan jegog in west Bali, as his son explained: ‘we are like heroes . . . (my father) wants to protect jegog’, seeing this as a means of ‘protecting Balinese culture’ (IGOAN).

The relationship between musicians and their communities can be seen in the Pesta Kesenian Bali (Bali Arts Festival), held mid-year annually for a month, in which groups are selected to perform as representative of their regency (Bali is divided into 8 regencies) or their village. Strong local pride in a group is a factor in this, and intense rivalries between villages and groups exist.

Many musicians in Bali work in other jobs, but take part in music and dance when necessary. Many groups that perform for tourists have regular (usually weekly) performance schedules requiring ongoing, regular rehearsals and learning of repertoire, but remuneration for these players is not great. There are musicians who support themselves entirely through performing and/or teaching. Once group costs have been met (i.e. for transport, instrument maintenance, costumes, fees to managers, etc.) performers might only receive the equivalent of a few dollars per performance, sometimes less. There are cases of tourist operators (egg restaurant and hotel managers) undercutting accepted payment levels, charging musicians for the privilege of performing, and requiring groups to perform with reduced instrumentation to cut costs. Performers are often at the mercy of such practices, despite government regulations against these practices, which are not enforced. Even though there is a government regulation that performances of Balinese dance must be accompanied by live music, some managers of tourist events use recorded music. This occurs with little or no control. Some gamelan groups finance their activities by hiring themselves out for special events (e.g. to play for a cremation, or a mecaru [house blessing]). Some performers support themselves entirely through performance and/or teaching – but this is a difficult life in a situation of rising living costs. Everyday realities for musicians, therefore, consist of combining daily work with the requirements of rehearsals and performances.

An avowed belief in the strength of Balinese cultural identity (referred to by Balinese as ajeg Bali – that is ‘Bali strong’, ‘Bali for the Balinese’) drives much performing arts activity in Bali. Performance is one way to express Balinese culture, as Cokorda Ngurah Suyadna commented: ‘we want to show everybody that the art in Bali is very rich’ (CNS). While a desire to ‘protect Balinese culture . . . we have to be proud, standing like a jegog’ (IKS) was the opinion of I Ketut Suwentra. The inward looking practice of self-referencing (i.e. by reshaping musical ideas from previous/other types of Balinese music) is one way of achieving this as it reminds listeners of a tradition, of the past, of the multiple levels and aspects of Balinese music and dance, and of a strong, ongoing culture. It presents a nexus between many aspects of music and dance, involving the past and the present in a new mixture of ideas: sound, style, historical context, people associated with music and dance, regional variants, awareness of the act of creation, awareness of a creator’s own knowledge of her/his act of creation. Partly for this reason, there is strong interest in seeing films made since the 1930s, especially if these include music/dance performances, in collating old photographs of performers, and in using old recordings (the earliest sound recordings of Balinese music seem to be a set of 78rpm discs made by Beka-Odeon in 1928) as the sources of repertoire and playing styles. This is one attitude that steers musical direction. As members of the group Mekar Bhuana stated: ‘(I) want to know what my ancestors have created . . . to understand music from the past’ (I Wayan Sadera); ‘(I) want Bali to be like it used to be’ (I Nyoman Sunarta).

Another is an aesthetic of the new. When kebyar style music evolved in the opening decades of the 20th century, it was considered avant-garde. The same comment can be made for contemporary compositions by Balinese composers, which as with those of composers in all parts of the world, challenge boundaries of what is considered usual (see CDs Arak: Balinese intoxication – compositions of I Wayan Gde Yudane; Dewa Alit: gamelan evolusi; Gender fusion: stories from the wayang kulit: fusion music composed/arranged by Richard Kraal and I Made Subandi; Kreasi kontemporer: semar pegulingan/selonding – Ceraken’s musik tradisi radikal; Returning minimalism: new works for Balinese gamelan gong kebyar; Sweet Sukawati Seeds; Wayang babad: new music for seven-tone gender wayang). The history of Balinese music has many examples of new styles emerging or developing out of existing ones. In addition to kebyar, others that can be mentioned include gamelan angklung kebyar (which combines gamelan angklung and its instruments with the compositional techniques and playing styles associated with gamelan gong kebyar), gamelan pelegongan as a purely instrumental genre (i.e. not intended to accompany legong dance) in the 1920s and 1930s, and works composed for the relatively recently formulated gamelan semaradana and those for gamelan wayang kulit in seven-tone tuning (rather than its usual five-tone one). These and others demonstrate a continuing ethos of creation and rethinking as an ongoing tradition in Balinese music.

Gender issues are strong in Balinese music and dance. In the past, while both men and women were dancers, only men played instruments. I Wayan Sudirana confirmed this when he noted that in the past ‘women made offerings and men played . . . . now women play gamelan’ and that this idea ‘spreads from village to village’ (IWS). Currently there is growth in gamelan wanita (women’s gamelan groups), and in women performers taking over what were once men’s performance genres. Examples of movement of performance types from the male domain to performance by women includes Kecak, which is now presented in some parts of Bali by female groups; dalang (puppet masters) that were once always male, can now be female; dances once performed only by men, such as Baris Tunggal (solo warrior dance) and the male role in Oleg Tamulilingan (courtship dance of two bees), are now often performed by women in male costume.

There is no dedicated infrastructure for music and dance activity in Bali. Any appropriate space can be a teaching/learning space or a performance venue. Temple events require performances within temple compounds, but also outside them. Processions associated with temple events, for example, to take religious artefacts to a local water source for ritual washing, moves performance onto the streets. Regulations for performance exist within tourist contexts, but as has been noted above, often these are not enforced. There seems to be little external regulation overall, but Balinese music and dance activity are highly regulated from within. Strict rehearsal schedules and performance rosters are maintained, and the respective duties of each group member tend to be scrupulously carried out. Performing groups are run by their own elected committees (reflecting village/community management committees), providing an example of a Balinese ideology of reflection of the macro-cosmos by various micro-cosmoses. Activities tend to be highly structured.

Balinese music and dance can be performed wherever is thought necessary or appropriate: a village, a temple, a palace, a beach, on the street. Many instances of music activity are carried out in street processions/parades, for religious purposes or for local festivals and celebrations. This gives an indication of the concept of desa – kala – patra which helps define the significance of an event. Desa is place; kala is time; patra is context. Through interpretation of these three ideas in relation to an event, music and dance take on levels of meaning and implication. Performances in temple compounds are sacred, but in varying degrees depending on their location within a temple footprint. There are parts of temple compounds more sacred than others, and this dictates what can be played and for whom. Music in the most sacred parts of temples is intended for the gods; that in the outermost parts is entertainment for people (although gods will be present and are also intended spectators). This is another indication of the religious significance of performing arts in Bali.

For tourist events, locations tend to be chosen for their appeal to tourist sensibilities: temple forecourts (which being the least sacred parts of these sites are acceptable for non-Balinese Hindu people), sites within palaces, community pavilions, parks, forests, streets, beaches, hotel gardens, restaurants. There is often an appeal to pre-colonial Balinese identity at tourist events, and an attempt to recreate Bali of the past in setting and atmosphere through uses of historic (or ‘quasi-historic’) buildings, decoration, and lighting. Performance costumes assist in this, as they have changed little over time, as reference to photographs and films from the early decades of the 20th century verify. The design and ornamentation of instruments also have changed little over time, so a gamelan set up for performance creates its own aura of tradition.

Performance of music and dance takes place wherever is felt appropriate. An overarching ideology of place-time-context helps define the intent, and outcomes, of performance. Similarly, teaching and learning take place wherever is possible – often very publicly. This perhaps helps reinforce the sense that music and dance ‘belong’ to those surrounding their transmission and expression. Types of collaboration, within Balinese music and also involving influences and personnel from outside Bali, are welcome, and feed into the artistic sources in creation of new works. Performing and teaching require musical instruments and other paraphernalia, and there is a well known network of producers of these; often these are localised, and specific villages/areas are recognised as centres of their production. The name of a gamelan maker is often commented on, and there are debates and preferences over the work of these. There does not seem to be a system of copyright, royalty payments for performance, restrictions on performance (apart from those invoked by adherence to Balinese Hindu ideology), or imprecations for performance of any specific repertoires or styles of music. Government support for music and dance was seen as more conceptual than financially real.


Live performance is the mainstay of Balinese music and dance. Recordings, which date back to the late 1920s, are produced in a two-tiered field. First, there are commercially produced recordings (cassettes, CDs, DVDs, VCDs) from companies within Bali, and from outside sources. Second, are recordings produced and marketed by performers. Radio and TV regularly broadcast Balinese music and dance, often in dedicated programs, or to reflect specific events, such as the annual Bali Arts Festival. There seems to be little or no systematic control of what is recorded, by whom, or of royalty payments or responsibilities. Much repertoire is regarded as anonymous. While CDs, DVDs and VCDs are available in tourist areas, many Balinese still purchase cassettes, reflecting the high cost of digital sound reproduction systems. Cars tend to have cassette players, rather than CD players.

Balinese TV and radio regularly broadcast shows that include music and dance, both traditional and popular/contemporary. Traditional shows tend to consist of the canonic repertoires that are also used in tourist performances, and these shows are criticised by some musicians as simply another example of addressing the lowest tastes in entertainment. The making of documentaries and recording of rarer repertoires are often carried out by non-Balinese researchers with funding from outside Bali (see the cases of Formaggia and Sinti above). For example, the CD Terompong beruk, Bali: the gamelan of Bangle, which documents a type of gamelan which might only be found in one village in eastern Bali, was undertaken by a team of European researchers/film makers from the Geneva Museum of Ethnography. Some Balinese musicians have internet/web/Facebook sites, and this seems to be increasing in prevalence.

There is a history of recording companies from outside Bali producing substantial recorded outputs of Balinese music. For example, in the 1990s, two companies released sets of CDs of Balinese music. Celestial Harmonies ( released a number of recordings of different types of Balinese music, including gamelan jegog, legong dance pieces, Kecak, and gamelan tektekan (see CDs The music of Bali: Volumes 1, 2, 3), while King Records cover gamelan angklung, gamelan semar pegulingan, gamelan gender wayang, arja, gamelan jegog, gamelan gong kebyar, gambang, genggong, joged, balaganjur, selonding, gamelan saron (luang), and kidung (see CDs World Music Library). In both cases, these recordings from the 1990s are important. They document music activity in Bali at that time, preserving repertoires and types of ensembles that are now considered rare and often performed by significant groups/musicians.

Tourism has become a major source of income, especially in those areas of high tourist numbers. The triangle formed in the base of the Island (Denpasar – Sanur – Ubud) is the major tourist destination, and within this area tourist performances are regular, though attendance numbers can vary depending on the weather and other factors, such as bombings and other forms of terrorist activity, health scares, and international financial conditions. Tourism is dependent on the exchange rates between Indonesia and the rest of the world, and this affects tourist numbers. Tourism is a double edged sword for Balinese performers. It creates the need for teaching and learning; it provides opportunities to perform; it allows presentation of Balinese cultural products; it feeds into support for makers of instruments, costumes, etc.; it provides funding for local projects; it supports people in the margins of the music industry, such as ticket and program sellers and people who make and sell food at performance venues, and drivers and shopkeepers in areas near tourist performances. As Emiko Susilo commented: ‘the tourist industry’s had a huge impact on the performing arts . . . now because of tourists there’s so much demand for dancers . . . and they need (dancers) at six different places every night, so there’s a lot of demand for performers’ (ESS).

At the same time, tourist performances often lead to replication (sometimes in a lacklustre way) of canonic repertoire, shortening of long pieces of music, reduction of performing group size, adaptations of music and dance to fit the timetable of hotel/restaurant meal services, and representation of types of performance that are anchored in the past and do not reflect the vibrant nature of ongoing creative developments in the performing arts. Balinese musicians have their own terms for tourist performances; instead of Legong Kraton (Palace Legong) as the name of a dance type, they refer to Legong Hotel (Hotel Legong) or Legong Turis (Tourist Legong).

From the previous sections, it can be seen that music and dance activity exist in Bali in different ways, covering a range of genres and types of ensembles, for different purposes, and with varying types and degrees of support. In some areas, this is strong, especially those areas with high levels of tourism and traditions of support of the performing arts. Some areas, for example, the poorer, eastern areas of Bali, while they have music and dance also have villages in which instruments are in poor condition, perhaps neglected and not used; some of the poorest villages do not posses their own gamelan. Alongside firm activity in the creation of new music and dance, both from within the traditional stylistic palettes of Balinese music and dance and taking in of influences from outside Bali, there are various projects to reclaim repertoires, styles and performance practices of the past, especially of ones seen as in danger of passing out of practice and dying out. Cokorda Ngurah Suyadnya commented on agendas of representing Balinese music and dance when he stated that ‘I want to prove that Balinese art is very rich . . .’ (CNS), as did I Ketut Suwentra who stated that one of his aims is ‘to protect Balinese culture’ (IKS), while his son, I Geded Oka Artha Negara stated that ‘we are protecting the traditional’ (IGOAN).

Alongside concern for music and dance per se, there is also a strong ‘grassroots’ movement, ajeg Bali, in which presenting performances of repertoires of the past figures as a way to remember Balinese history, to show the levels of achievement of Balinese artists, and to remind that Balinese performance culture is ongoing, complex, and productive – therefore that Balinese culture is also strong. For many Balinese people, this is meant to imply criticism of federal Jakartanism, in which the power of the central Indonesian national government (i.e. in Jakarta) is seen as opposed to Balinese individuality. The fact that many businesses in Bali are owned by Javanese and other non-Balinese people is also a factor at work here, and Balinese people often comment that they work, but profits go to bank accounts in Java/Jakarta. Systemic study of music is represented by ISI (although it must be noted that staff at ISI were not forthcoming in contributing to this project) and KOKAR (an arts dedicated secondary school). While ISI is criticised by many musicians, it provides university level degree programs in Balinese performing arts, and requires students to undertake not only performance in their chosen genres but research into local traditions (archived in the form of theses in the library of ISI [again, which were not made available by staff at ISI for this project], and sporadically published as research articles in the ISI house journal, Mudra) and creation of new compositions, dances, etc. Teaching and learning of music and dance are regular and ongoing. These take place at village level (i.e. not primarily through the education system, even though some schools provide tuition in gamelan and dance), through privately run sanggar (studios), or in groups based around banjar (village sector) membership. There is one dedicated performing arts secondary school, KOKAR (Konservatori Kawitan) in Blahbatuh, at which students study the various types of Balinese performing arts (south Bali). However, work at KOKAR tends to cover current, canonic repertoire, and not investigate past traditions of Balinese music. Festivals at varying levels of locale are regular events, sometimes with funding, often without.

Sustainability covers three main areas in this context. First, that of repertoires and their performance practices. Styles of music, and their dedicated ensembles, rise and fall in popularity in Bali in an ongoing manner. This is not unknown to Balinese performers, many of whom work to reclaim and maintain older forms of performance. Within this there are levels of reclamation, from groups who may use a gamelan gong kebyar to learn and perform music of the tradition of gamelan gong gede, to those groups who seek out antique instruments with tunings and timbral envelopes that reflect how music is thought to have sounded in the past. This raises the issue of authenticity as a spectrum of ideologies and applications, none of which is presented as a final opinion. Second, continuity of collective memory. In an aural/oral tradition that relies on individuals remembering music and dance (although recordings can now be used to document repertoires), as older performers die, often their knowledge dies with them: ‘in terms of the performing arts . . . many times we’ve had incredible performers and then they’ve passed away before they’ve passed on their knowledge, and then you lose that, and it’s such a tragedy when that happens’ (ESS). There is an attempt to controvert this by employing seniman tua to teach and/or advise on music and dance of the past, and to publish the reminiscences of and/or archival information from these people (for example, on the life of I Made Lebah [?1905 – 1996] in Waterson, 2009). These instances are reinforced by the honour accorded senior artists, and ways in which their careers are remembered and celebrated. Reclamation projects utilising recordings and films of the past are important in this as well, providing sources of repertoires and performing styles, costuming, choreographies, etc. The third area is that of the ecology of the music industry: manufacture and provision of instruments, costumes and paraphernalia; provision and use of performance spaces; roles of broadcast media and recordings in supporting the work of performers; the personnel of teaching and managing performing arts activities; the employment of people working ‘behind the scenes’ to organise, promote, and run performances, and sell tickets and programs; recording producers, and the industry of selling recordings and other forms of information. This infrastructure of people and their various roles is unseen by many audiences, yet their contribution, and financial gain, are significant aspects of and outcomes of music and dance in Bali. Existing above these three wide areas of sustainability is the influence of religion on the arts in general in Bali, and ways in which music and dance are integrated into the belief system of Balinese Hinduism, where performance is both an offering and a sacrament, providing a means for personal and group dharma (spiritual well-being). Issues relating to the religious meaning of the performing arts in Bali are researched and debated by various scholars (e.g. Harnish, 1991; Ramstedt, 1991; Askovic, 1998; Rubinstein & Connor, 1999; Yampolsky, 2001; Johnson, 2002; Howe, 2005; Davies, 2006).

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