Subowo, Yohanes, Indonesian dancer and composer, brother of Blacius Subono; b. Klaten, Central Java, Jan. 1, 1960. He was born into an artistic family (his 8 older siblings were professional artists), and although he wanted to join the army, he was persuaded by his father, the shadow puppet master (dhalang) Yusuf Kiyatdiharjo, to pursue a career in the arts. After studying dance and composition at Inst. Seni Indonesia (I.S.I., National Arts Inst.; graduated, 1986), he joined its dance faculty. In 1982 he began experimenting with instruments other than those of the Javanese gamelan; made small instruments from bamboo, tuning them to the gamelan, using cowbells, tin roofing sheets, and whistles made from bamboo and coconut leaves; also transposed music using techniques from Javanese gamelan to such Western instruments as electronic keyboards. In some compositions, he imposes strict limitations on pitch and/or instrumentation and also experiments with such extended vocal techniques as having singers sing into bamboo tubes or bronze potgongs. His compositions borrow their structures from jazz, rock, and Western Classical styles, while drawing on African and popular Indonesian music; these include Orak-Arik, Lesung (1981), Gobyog (1982), Kentongan, Patmo (1982), and Tanggung (1984), variously scored for Javanese gamelan, found objects, farm tools, and electronic and original instruments. He also experimented with sounds generated by devices attached to a dancer’s body. In 1985 he toured England as both a dancer and a musician.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire