Chapter

“A Bridge to Java”

Hardja Susilo, David Harnish, Ted SolÍs and J. Lawrence Witzleben

in Performing Ethnomusicology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238749
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937178 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238749.003.0003
“A Bridge to Java”

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This chapter gives a striking account of the author's journey, teaching gamelan for four decades in America. It discusses “bimusicality” in gamelan's academic infancy as it had two groups of people, people who liked to talk about gamelan, the ethnomusicology students, and people who liked to play gamelan. People used to memorized their parts, and then put everything together, and that became a Javanese ensemble. It was incredible, but it sounded stiff. Teaching methods were mainly centered around teaching students to think as Javanese musicians because to do it right, it was a must to know how to interrelate with the other parts and with other concurrent events. More than that the students should learn to feel or think the way a native thinks when playing gamelan. Gamelan had been one of the large groups among the author's ethnic music ensembles. Unlike the other ensembles, whose members are largely people from that particular ethnic group, most members of the author's gamelan ensemble are non-Javanese and non-Balinese.

Keywords: Gamelan; Javanese; bimusicality; teaching methods; ensemble; ethnomusicology; Javanese ensemble

Chapter.  8015 words. 

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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