“No, Not ‘bali Hai’!”

David Harnish

in Performing Ethnomusicology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238749
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937178 | DOI:
“No, Not ‘bali Hai’!”

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This chapter deals with the challenges of adaptation and orientalism that the author faced in performing and teaching Balinese gamelan. Coming from urban academies and community teaching on the West Coast, the author had to adapt to new surroundings and develop new teaching strategies. Most members of the administration and faculty beyond the author's immediate department neither expected nor encouraged students to study these ensembles. Ethnomusicologists who teach non-western ensembles are instructed neither by professors at academies nor by their master teachers in the field how to teach the music to students at universities. So each teacher must deal with his or her own blinders and filters and ultimately evolve effective teaching methods that reach students. Methods vary, of course, from teacher to teacher, and perhaps certain strategies are more effective for certain kinds of music ensemble than others. Methods of transferring are also discussed, with mention of Balinese gamelan music that emphasizes precision, not individual interpretation or improvisation. The chapter emphasizes that creating communities helps, as musicians do not play their parts alone but only in interaction with others. Lastly, it illustrates certain matters that address authenticity and orientalism in ethnomusicology.

Keywords: teaching methods; orientalism; ethnomusicology; music ensemble

Chapter.  5645 words. 

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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