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Title: The politics of participation : an ethnography of gamelan associations in Surakarta, central Java
Author: Roberts, Jonathan Fergus
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Professional Javanese gamelan musicians and the way they think about and make music have been extensively studied by ethnomusicologists. This thesis shifts the analytical focus to the experience and practice of players in 'gamelan associations' for whom music is neither their primary occupation nor main source of income. It addresses two issues: firstly, who are these musicians and what does their way of playing and conceiving of music tell us about gamelan, and secondly, what opportunities and benefits does participation in these groups afford them. The first section sets out the details and context of fourteen gamelan associations in Surakarta. It examines local terminology for different forms of musicianship, their practice in relation to factors such as recompense for playing, ability, repertoire, and training, and discusses the combination of rehearsal and social gathering which I claim is fundamental to these groups. I argue that, whilst there is significant diversity among gamelan associations and their members, they represent a unified category of musicians distinct from those who are officially employed to play and that the specific benefits they obtain from playing derive from this non-professional status. The second section sets out these benefits in five chapters, relating respectively to gamelan's implication in discourses of community at local and state level, expressions of cultural ownership, the display and negotiation of personal authority, access to power, and the production of public sound. I argue that these connections mean that participation in gamelan associations is not simply recreational but a potentially powerful way for Solonese people to create meaning and influence for themselves amidst the competing models of modernity and rapid political change of contemporary Indonesia.
Supervisor: Stokes, Martin Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ethnomusicology ; Gamelan music ; Musicians--Indonesia--Java ; Music--Social aspects--Indonesia--Java ; Java (Indonesia)--Social life and customs