Music: Music and Religion in Southeast Asia

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The ten nation-states of Southeast Asia, namely Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, contain many hundreds of ethnic groups. These regional groups speak thousands of different languages practice various religions, and perform thousands of styles of music. Although many of the Southeast Asian countries are trying to build national cultures, regionalism is usually accepted, sometimes celebrated, and occasionally suppressed. Major faiths practiced in Southeast Asia include Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism.

Vocal and instrumental music has been central to the religious life of the region from antiquity to the present. Most of this music shares some common characteristics that distinguishes it from compositions found in other areas of the world. Separating music strictly by country can be misleading. The mainland countries of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, for example, all celebrate certain ceremonial traditions (such as the wai kruu ritual) that honor teachers, ancestral spirits, and the Buddha, whereas Malaysia and Indonesia, most of whose residents are Muslim, share several contemporary Islamic musical styles. Vietnam's religious music shares more similarities with the Chinese music of East Asia than with ritual songs in other neighboring countries.

Southeast Asians belong to all of the major world religions. In the past, the religious rituals practiced within any particular faith differed markedly by country. Mass communications and education throughout the region, however, have reduced or eliminated local adaptations. Reform movements and urbanization also have helped to standardize religious and musical practices. For example, Muslims in southern Thailand or Vietnam now worship in much the same way as do their counterparts in the southern Philippines and the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia.

Despite the modernization that threatens the unique regional traditions, most Southeast Asian countries maintain distinctive strata that represent various periods of cultural developments and belief systems. In central Java, for example, in the courtyards of the royal mosques during the week-long Muslim celebration called Mawlid that commemorates the birth of the prophet Muammad, musicians still play the gamelan called sekaten, a musical ensemble that was first developed in the 1600s to help spread Islam. Oddly enough, these performances occur near the headquarters of a Muslim reformist organization Laskar Jihad, which pointedly rejects such music, as it seeks to transform most of Southeast Asia into an Islamic super state. Such unique regional traditions seemingly in contrast to modernist movements are often contested and may disappear or secularize to survive.

Indigenous faithsonce widely practicedare gradually decreasing as evangelism, modernization, and deforestation encroach on the rural environment. Most premodern ethnic groups are converting, adapting, or moving to urban centers and giving up their rich ritual and musical traditions. Several groups in remote areas of each country, however, have maintained their ancestral beliefs. The Temiar people of Malaysia, for instance, continue to practice their traditional songs of healing, gender relationships, and trance mediums.

Musical activity in Southeast Asia ranges from frequent to rare. In Bali, Indonesia, creating artdance, sculpture, and painting in addition to musicis a fundamental part of the Hindu religion. In some parts of Malaysia, by contrast, Islamic leaders may prohibit music.

Notions of Power

Transformational ideas of spiritual and political power have had a long history in numerous religious traditions. These notions are usually centered on a person, place, or object. Great leaders and artists, for example, are often perceived to have become more spiritually powerful after a religious experience; in Muslim regions, for example, a musician may become purer after having visited the holy city of Mecca. Moreover, many famous composers and compositions often are considered to have been divinely inspired; in Bali, this concept is described by a standard term: taksu. Ancient places thought to be invested with spiritual force, such as Cambodia's Angkor Wat and Java's Borobudur, also can be viewed as centers of power. Similarly, certain objects, such as heirlooms and musical instruments, may be believed to contain or emanate divine power.

Gong-chime musical ensembles have often been viewed as vessels of power and as vehicles for ennobling rulers or framing ceremonial events. These ensembles usually feature hanging or horizontally-mounted knobbed gongs (as distinguished from vertical East Asian flat gongs), sometimes accompanied by wind or stringed instruments or drums. The craft of metallurgy, which has been practiced for thousands of years, was initially developed in Vietnam. Bronze musical instruments gradually assumed ritual prominence throughout the region; religious ceremonies incorporated bronze drums, for instance, as early as 100 bce. Later artisans constructed foundries in order to manufacture instruments; by the second millennium ce, the smiths who crafted these instruments were being hailed as artists that could harness the power of the earth.

Examples of these ensembles include the various gamelans of Java, Bali, and Lombok, in Indonesia; the kulintang of the southern Philippines; the Thai piphat ; the Burmese hsaìñwaìñ ; the Cambodian pinn peat ; and various others found in Malaysia, Laos, and elsewhere. According to their believers, these ensembles frequently mediate power. For example, in some ensembles musical instruments or elements that unite male and female (in counterpart pairs) or other cosmological symbolism may be thought to invoke the divine or balance the world through performance. Similarly, in Thailand, worshipers believe that elder piphat musicians can access power through a sacred repertoire and then manifest the divine while they play.

Many Southeast Asians also believe that these gong-chime ensembles possess a residing spirit; faithful listeners will provide offerings on a regular basis. In Indonesia, older ensembles are generally thought to be more sacred; the greater the age of the instruments, the greater their interaction with the ancestors, and therefore the greater reverence and power the ensemble commands. In these gamelans, the gong is the spiritual center; it may receive a title or name during a consecration ceremony on behalf of the ensemble. Some scholars have asserted that gamelans are symbolic depictions of macrocosm and microcosm, and that they represent a tripartite universe or anthropomorphism of head, body, and foot; others note that some of the ensembles are considered to be living organisms. Reports in Java, of particularly "alive" gamelans playing on their own without human musicians, add to the ensembles' identity and mystique.

Gong-chime compositions also are believed to be powerful, able to influence nature, time, places, people and objects. For example, some Javanese believe that a composition called Anglir Mendung (Like storm clouds) can cause rainfall if it is performed at the proper time. Many scholars have also suggested that the cyclic nature of the gong-punctuated music produced by gamelans in Java and Bali echoes the passage of time; they compare it to the region's complex calendar systems and interpret the music as a powerful metaphor of the structure of life and the cosmos.

Most of the ancient concepts of power and music were originally based on Hindu-Buddhist ideas; they were widely adopted in the region partially because early monarchs found these notions appealing. Later, Muslim evangelists who traveled to the region appropriated these ideas as they sought to gain converts in areas like the southern Philippines and Java. They also developed new instrumental, vocal, and dramatic musical forms in order to spread Islam; similarly, Christian missionaries adapted Western hymns to the regional musical genres to draw converts to their faith.

Poetry in song formintended to communicate new teachings, sacred stories, and prayershas been central to Southeast Asian religious life for generations. Sacred texts sung in many different sacred languagesHinduism in Sanskrit, Buddhism in Pali, Islam in Arabic, and Catholicism in Latinaccompanied these new religions into Southeast Asia. At first, these languages were used solely in the courts, in order to legitimize authority through sung poetry and chant. Stories from religious textssuch as the Rāmāyaa, the Mahābhārata, the Qurʾ ān, or the Bibleoften became songs that were sung in either the local or the imported language; these songs, in turn, popularized the new beliefs. Some songs that blended the old and the new had particular powers; in Java, for example, certain songs could be sung to stop heavy rains, tame crocodiles, or to exorcise malevolent spirits. In Sumatra, a shaman trained in black-and-white magic could use eleven different grades of song to entice and capture renegade tigers that had trespassed onto human lands.

One powerful musical ritual celebrated in several countries is the shadow puppet theater. In many cultures, it carries cosmological significance, particularly in the Indonesian areas of Java, Bali, and Lombok. There, puppeteers (dalang ) are greatly respected for their power to re-create the universe, restore spiritual balance, achieve healing, and perform other transformations. The accompanying music is also powerful; in Java, the gamelan compositions played during the overture symbolize the span of a human life, while in Lombok, the opening gamelan pieces invoke the elements of life (fire, air, water) to help re-create the world. A dalang transmits the morals of a story and imparts spiritual and ethical values while entertaining and educating the audience. Moreover, a puppet theater performance might affect the environment. In Cambodia, the Reamker shadow theater, a local appropriation of the Rāmāyaa, is believed to attract rain.

Authenticity and Acculturation

Musical ideas frequently accompanied new religions into the region; these either were retained fairly intact, such as the Buddhist chants that were adopted in mainland Southeast Asia, or absorbed into local forms. Religious influences from India came to Southeast Asia unevenly and over many centuries; most of the regions modified a particular faith's notions of hierarchy, city-state, ruler, and texts to suit the local environment. Musical incorporations are much less obvious, though some scholars have suggested that the cyclic metric cycles used in the gong-chime ensembles may have originated with Indian tala systems, and some Sanskrit terms have become part of the musical vocabulary.

The texts of Hinduism and Buddhism have been inspiring and powerful influences, and the scriptures have stimulated dance dramas based on epics such as the Rāmāyaa and the Mahābhārata, as well as poetry and song. The forms that developed were generally indigenous and based on preexisting frameworks. For example, artists in some mainland Southeast Asian areas, such as Laos, constructed unique courtship songs to transmit Buddhist Jātaka tales and Hindu-Buddhist cosmological stories. In the lowland Philippines, the passion of the Christ (Pasyon ) was recited or sung following performances of older, pre-Christian epics, and the all-night singing that recounts the birth of Muammad in the southern Philippines adopted the same framework.

Influences from China, too, have been widespread and particularly prominent in Vietnam, where many Buddhist texts have been translated and maintained in classical Chinese. Chinese instruments have found favor in several areas, and some Chinese narratives have spread as far away as Bali. Chinese immigrants throughout Southeast Asia (the fewest of whom live in Laos, with the majority in Singapore) have maintained or adapted their religious and musical traditions to their particular context. Though India and China have been religious "donor" countries to some extent, it is unwise to suggest that Southeast Asia merely adopted their influences. Each ethnic group and country has changed over time; in addition to exporting socioreligious ideology, India and China also have actively borrowed beliefs from Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian countries have exploited each other for millennia. Victors in early Siam often carried off Cambodian music organizations following a conquest, and then institutionalized Cambodian music in Thai courts; Thai musicians, in turn, were often kidnapped and taken to Burma; Laotian court music is thought to have originated in Cambodia; and monks from these countries frequently visited Buddhist centers in other nations, thus spreading and sharing liturgical and musical ideas. Javanese religio-cultural influence was imposed upon much of the archipelago during the reign of dynasties such as the Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit and the early Islamic Mataram. Religious and cultural concepts and musical instruments thus moved frequently throughout the region, inspiring local artistic responses to Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Reform movements, found primarily within Islamic societies, have fought against such heterogeneity and striven for purity in religious and musical practices.

Islam in Southeast Asia is often termed moderate by scholars. In rural areas, Islamic events may still be celebrated with local music, though in coastal and urban areas, orthodox or standardized forms of worship are the norm. The Islamic Minangkabau people in west Sumatra, who live in coastal and inland areas, are a case in point. While the coastal Minangkabau have discontinued most of their indigenous poetic forms, gong-chime ensembles, and matrilineal family patterns to follow Islam, most of those that live inland have retained them.

The Christian Batak in north Sumatra faced a similar dilemma. Barred from using indigenous music in church, many of them switched to German-style brass bands in conforming to so-called Christian notions of proper music. These ensembles, however, soon lost favor; coupled with a change to local control and a revival movement, the "traditional" drum-gong ensemble, gondang sembilan, was then brought into the church for services. Much earlier, in fact, Catholics in Central Java had featured masses that were accompanied by gamelans. Such blending of the local music with the adopted religion is often contested, however, particularly within the Islamic communities.

Though the relationship between music and Islam has been complicated, many Southeast Asian Muslims regularly enjoy music. Several instruments have become associated with pan-Islam in the region, including barrel drums, frame drums, plucked lutes, and oboes. The two musical-like behaviors directly associated with IslamQurʾanic recitation and call to prayerare fairly uniform throughout the region. Earlier distinctions in practice seem to have largely disappeared, with the development of telecommunications, Islamic schools, recordings, and the visits of specialists from countries such as Egypt. Many Southeast Asian Muslims also travel to the Middle East to study these prayer forms, and participate in frequent national and international contests designed to standardize these activities. In some areas, such as Indonesia, chant is accepted as a form of "music"; a separate genre (seni musik Islam, or Islamic musical art) can promote music as an agent of dakwah (bringing people to Islam); while in other areas (similar to Arabic countries), chant is not considered to be music because it is based on the divine word of the Qurʾ ān, and music in Islam is rarely approved. One intriguing development in Malaysia and Indonesia is participation of women and girls in Qurʾanic recitation. They perform in public and on television, and, in modern Indonesia, even in the company of men. In these respectsallowing women to publicly perform recitation and generally accepting musicIslam in Southeast Asia appears to be more moderate than in most of the Middle East and South Asia.

The spread of Islam to many areas has led to a marked decrease or a secularization of non-Islamic musical forms. For example, the shadow puppet theater has disappeared in several parts of Malaysia (where it conveyed Hindu epics), while that on the Indonesian island of Lombok has further secularized and is frequently aimed at tourists. Other forms have had to become more Islamic to survive; for example, many poetic forms in Sumatra are now prefaced by Arabic prayers. Modernization and globalization have also affected these and hundreds of other genres. Forms that used to be "functional" (ritually transformative or educational) are now "aesthetic" (placed on a formal stage for appreciation) and compete with television for an audience, or are repackaged for tourism. The Cambodian Reamker shadow theater, for example, once performed as a part of various complex rituals over several nights, now is staged only as a one-hour presentation at universities. Younger generations of Southeast Asians have not generally been interested in retaining ritual music traditions different from orthodox or modernized forms.

Orthodoxy, Traditionalism, and Popular Movements

Some tension exists between orthodox and local practices in most of Southeast Asia, not only in the Muslim regions but also among Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. For centuries, people throughout much of Southeast Asia believed that the landscape was populated by ancestral or natural spirits, who were the original owners of the land, water, and trees; these notions have been fundamental in creating and systematizing rice culture and associated ritual practices featuring music. External religions have acculturated to the context and contributed new inspiration and meaning to the arts. In some areas, indigenous and external beliefs were constructed into a complementary duality of female and male; local faiths (female) functioned in fertility and healing and often involved female officials, while imported ones operated in royal houses and formal places of worship and were dominated by men.

Even today, many mainland Southeast Asians perceive no contradiction in honoring Buddha [Siddhārtha Gautama (c. 563c. 483 bce)] in addition to a supreme being and a pantheon of deities; similarly, some Catholics in Vietnam, Muslims in Java, and Hindus in Bali include altars for spirits or deities. In this model of acculturation, earlier music practices are often incorporated into syncretic rites. For example, traditional gong ensembles have become part of animistic funeral practices in upland Christianized Vietnam; the sacred gamelan Mawlid is performed during the ceremony of the same name to honor Muammad in north Lombok in Indonesia, while a different sacred gamelan, jerujeng, is used for Buddhist festivals in the western part of the island. A free-reed mouth organ accompanies female spirit mediums who intervene in the curing rituals performed in the Buddhist areas of northeast Thailand and Laos; the hsaìñwaìñ ensemble accompanies possession trances held at Burmese temples; the kulintang ensemble accompanies Islamic rites in parts of Mindanau and the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines, while a gong marks the hours during Ramaān in Datu Piang. In Indonesia, gamelans direct Muslim performers of hobbyhorse trance dancing in East Java, and Roman Catholic Torajans in Sulawesi dance in large circles as part of elaborate funerals to send the spirit of the deceased to the next world. Among those who practice the pure forms of world religions, indigenous music and ritual may be invited as a last resort. Orthodox Muslims in Sumbawa, Indonesia, have incorporated female performers, gong ensembles, and pre-Islamic ritual forms when Western medicines and Islamic prayers are not enough for their congregations. Similarly, Indonesians say that, although most of them are practicing Muslims, they all worship the volcano deities whenever a nearby volcano threatens to erupt.

Colonization by European powers profoundly affected every Southeast Asian country except Thailand, which has never been subject to Western rule. Europeans introduced Christianity, established missions, and imported and modified hymns; the new religion found favor in the Philippines and in parts of mainland Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Movements since the late twentieth century have aimed at developing "indigenous hymnody" (hymns based on scripture in local languages with local music elements) to maintain and multiply the faithful. Warfare and communism have exerted equal forces on the music of the region, despite the fact that many countries were not directly involved in either disruption. Buddhist and Christian music and services in the affected mainland countries (namely, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam) were largely restricted, and sometimes allowed to be performed only in service to the state. In Cambodia, court music quickly disappeared in the 1970s; after the disastrous Khmer Rouge leadership, many other musical forms also vanished, along with thousands of musicians. Due to poverty, isolation, and political conservatism, sponsored music activities in Laos are similarly lacking.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Islam in Southeast Asia, once tremendously varied, began to assume a recognizable shape. In Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, a reformist movement took hold and began to enforce the pillars of Islam, establishing schools taught by Arab specialists or returning ājji (pilgrims who had traveled to Mecca). A number of pan-Islamic musical forms soon developed, including hadrah (ūfī-related music/ritual events), burdah (hymn singing), and zikir, dabus, or dhikr (ūfī ritual music involving repetitive phrases), generally accompanied by frame drums and often stimulating trance. Many of the early Muslim evangelists were ūfī and their legacies remain; perhaps this fact has contributed to a more permissive attitude toward music in the region. As the language of the Qurʾān, Arabic has a special status in all Muslim areas of Southeast Asia. Songs in Arabic, regardless their source or meaning, are generally considered proper and spiritually meritorious.

What Arabic has been for Islam, the language of Pali has been for Buddhism. Chant assemblies, convoked by signals played on bells, gongs, drums, and other percussion instruments, perform the Pali canon of liturgy. Music during services, however, varies by country. In Vietnam, monks often perform on a lute, and lay musicians may be asked to accompany funeral ceremonies; in Burma, tempo is marked by a bell and clappers, in Laos by bells and a drum; the Chinese diaspora communities use a diversity of ritual instruments in numerous Buddhist, neo-Confucian, or other ceremonies. Buddhist reform movements are not known, though some Thai communities are concerned about a Hindu layer (found throughout much of mainland Buddhism) underlying many rites and music. Furthermore, isolated Buddhist groups today often wish to be part of a larger community, and they may ultimately sacrifice local traditions for their identity and survival. The Boda of Lombok, for example, frequently invite Javanese and occasionally Japanese Buddhist monks to update their training, chants, and services as they coexist with a strong society of Muslims.

Popular religious music is widespread in Malaysia and island Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, pop rohani is Christian pop; qasidah moderen and some styles of dangdut (combining national, Western, Arabic, and Hindi film music elements) are Islamic. The performer Rhoma Irama pioneered dangdut in the 1970s. Commentators have credited or accused Irama of proselytizing for Islam; most artists, however, do not promote Islam. Singer and dancer Inul Daratista rose from poverty to become one of the most popular and controversial dangdut artists in twenty-first-century Indonesia. She became a superstar through music videos that showcased her erotic dance movements. She was soon censured by a conservative Muslim organization, the Indonesian Ulemas Council. The public rose to her defense, however, and created a backlash against the council, demonstrating the limited popularity of reformist Islam. In other areas, Balinese popular music frequently discusses issues of Hindu experience, and in Singapore and Malaysia, videos and video CDs of Buddhist songs in a karaoke format are produced for national and international markets.


For detailed surveys of music and related issues in Southeast Asia, see Southeast AsiaGarland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 4, edited by Sean Williams and Terry Miller, New York and London, 1998. For shorter surveys, see the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie, London, 2001. A useful annotated bibliography on performing arts and religion is The Music and Dance of the World's Religions by E. Gardner Rust, Westport, Conn., 1996. Books that feature chapters on musical culture in Southeast Asia include Essays on Southeast Asian Performing Arts: Local Manifestations and Cross-Cultural Implications, edited by Kathy Foley, Berkeley, Calif., 1992; Balinese Music in Context: a Sixty-Fifth Birthday Tribute to Hans Oesch, edited by Danker Schaareman, Winterthur, Switzerland, 1992; and Performance in Java and Bali: Studies of Narrative, Theatre, Music, and Dance, edited by Bernard Arps, London, 1993. A periodical focusing on music in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos is Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, Vol. IX, edited by Amy Catlin, Los Angeles, 1992.

Anderson, Benedict. "The Idea of Power in Javanese Culture." In Culture and Politics in Indonesia, edited by Clare Holt et al., pp. 169. Ithaca, N.Y., 1972. A look at Javanese sultans and the ways they construct and manipulate spiritual and political power through symbolic and ritual action.

Bakan, Michael B. Music of Death and New Creation: Experiences in the World of Balinese Gamelan Beleganjur. Chicago, 1999. A reflexive ethnography describing political uses, contests, and rituals of processional beleganjur ensembles.

Becker, Judith. "Hindu-Buddhist Time in Javanese Gamelan Music." In The Study of Time, Papers from the Fourth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Time, Alpbach-Austria, edited by J. T. Fraser, N. Lawrence, and D. Park, pp. 162172. New York, 1981. An article that explores numerology and cyclic time in gamelan music, calendar systems, and Hindu-Buddhist Javanese cosmology.

Becker, Judith. Gamelan Stories: Tantrism, Islam, and Aesthetics in Central Java. Tempe, Ariz., 1993. A work that explores the diverse religious background and spiritual significance of Javanese gamelan and dance dramas.

Becker, J. and A. L. Becker. "A Musical Icon: Power and Meaning in Javanese Gamelan Music." In The Sign in Music and Literature, edited by Wendy Steiner, pp. 203215. Austin, Tex., 1981. A theoretical study combining linguistics and meaning in the articulation of power in Javanese gamelan performance, in which gamelan music is iconic of time and cosmology.

Brinner, Benjamin. Knowing Music, Making Music: Javanese Gamelan and the Theory of Musical Competence and Interaction. Chicago, 1995. An ethnography of Javanese music competence and its location in self-perceptions, mutual assessments, ritual and context, and cognition.

DeVale, Sue Carole, and I Wayan Dibia. "Sekar Anjar : An Exploration of Meaning in Balinese Gamelan." The World of Music 33 (1) (1991): 551. A thorough and structural investigation into the cosmological design motives, symbolism, and architecture of Balinese instruments and gamelan music.

Geertz, Clifford. The Religion of Java. New York, 1960. A classic study that categorizes differing practices and views of Islam in Java; Indonesian scholars often refer to this book in their own studies.

Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York, 1973. A collection of essays featuring penetrating analyses on person and time in Bali, the Balinese cockfight, Balinese social inversion, and Javanese ritual and social change, among other topics.

Geertz, Clifford. Negara: The Balinese Theater State in the Nineteenth Century. Princeton, N.J., 1980. An interpretive analysis of theatric Hindu political imagery, symbolism, and the state.

Gold, Lisa Rachel. "The Gender Wayang Repertoire in Theater and Ritual: A Study of Balinese Musical Meaning." Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1998. A detailed look at the ritual significance of the Balinese shadow puppet theater and its music in the construction of spiritual meaning and narrative.

Harnish, David. "Religion and Music: Syncretism, Orthodox Islam, and Musical Change in Lombok." Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology 7 (1988): 123138. An overview of music changes among Muslims in Lombok, Indonesia as a result of increasing Islamification.

Harnish, David. "The Future Meets the Past in the Present: Music and Buddhism in Lombok." Asian Music 25, nos. 12 (1994): 2950. An analysis of a particular Buddhist festival in Lombok, its negotiations with indigenous beliefs and music, and the Indonesian national drive for monotheism.

Harnish, David. "Music, Myth, and Liturgy at the Lingsar Temple Festival in Lombok, Indonesia." Yearbook for Traditional Music 29 (1997): 80106. A detailed structural and interpretive overview of an annual religious festival in Lombok combining migrant Hindu Balinese and local Sasak Muslims, their debates on myth, and their music.

Harnish, David. "Worlds of Wayang Sasak: Music, Performance, and Negotiations of Religion and Modernity." Asian Music 34, no. 2 (2003): 91120. A discussion on the history of the shadow puppet theater in Lombok, its relationship to changing Islamic orientations, and adjustments made by puppeteers to religious and commercial forces.

Hatch, Martin. "Music and Religion in Southeast Asia." In The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Mircea Eliade, vol. 10. New York, 1987. This article emphasizes Javanese traditions.

Heimarck, Brita Renée. Balinese Discourses on Music and Modernization: Village Voices and Urban Views. New York and London, 2003. An ethnography that traces the tensions between village and urban views on music and ritual significance, including an analysis of the transformation of music in conservatories.

Herbst, Edward. Voices in Bali: Energies and Perceptions in Vocal Music and Dance Theater. London, 1997. An ethnography of performance, highlighting the spiritual preparedness of performers and their interactions with ritual context.

Ramseyer, Urs. The Art and Culture of Bali. Singapore, 1986. A comprehensive look at the role of religion in Balinese artistic culture.

Rasmussen, Anne K. "The Qurʾ ān in Indonesian Daily Life: The Public Project of Musical Oratory." Ethnomusicology 45 (1) (2001): 3057. A descriptive ethnography of the position of Qurʾanic recitation in contemporary Indonesia; the author offers many insightful reflections on her studies on recitation with other women and her interaction with performers, as well as her own performances.

Roseman, Marina. Healing Sounds from the Malaysia Rainforest: Temiar Music and Medicine. Berkeley, Calif., 1991. A deeply contextualized study on the religious culture and music of Temiar, with emphases on trance, healing and gender.

Sarkissian, Margaret. D'Albuquerque's Children: Performing Tradition in Malaysia's Portuguese Settlements. Chicago, 2000. A comprehensive music ethnography of the minority Portuguese descendents in Malaysia, their negotiations with history and the contemporary state, and cultural/spiritual elements of performance.

Sumarsam. Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java. Chicago, 1995. An analysis of Hindu, Islamic, European, Chinese, and Malay forces and their influence on the development of Javanese gamelan over the centuries.

Sutton, R. Anderson. Calling Back the Spirit: Music, Dance, and Cultural Politics in Lowland South Sulawesi. New York, 2002. An exploration of the way Makassarese performers seek to empower local music and dance by reinvesting spiritual significance in response to broader Indonesian and international cultural influences.

Tenzer, Michael. Balinese Music. Berkeley, Calif. and Singapore, 1998. An overview of Balinese music styles and their roles in Balinese culture and religion.

Walton, Susan. "Heavenly Nymphs and Earthly Delights: Javanese Female Singers, Their Music and Their Lives." Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1996. An exploration of the spiritual and sometimes erotic imagery of Javanese female gamelan singers and their negotiations and manipulations of that position; the author, a fine gamelan singer herself, also illuminates the decisions that singers make during performances.

Wong, Deborah. Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Performance. Chicago, 2001. A sometimes reflexive ethnography on the Thai piphat ensemble, ritual authority and the wai kruu ceremony from a performance studies' perspective.

Wong, Deborah, and René T. A. Lysloff. "Threshold to the Sacred: The Overture in Thai and Javanese Ritual Performance." Ethnomusicology 35 (3) (1991): 315348. An article that examines overtures in Javanese shadow puppet theater and Thai Hindu-Buddhist ritual; both establish ritual time and space for the audience and invoke divine presence.

David Harnish (2005)

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