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Sounding Out the State of Indonesian Music

Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 9:00am to 3:15pm

The Fourth Cornell Modern Indonesia Project “State of the Field” Conference

For its fourth “State of the Field” conference, the Cornell Modern Indonesia Project brings together some forty participants, from the US, Canada, and Indonesia, to sound out the state of Indonesian music, both as a subject of scholarly inquiry, and as an artistic practice pursued within and beyond Indonesia. Those who work primarily as scholars of Indonesian music, mostly within the field of ethnomusicology, will be joined by others from in, around, and outside academia who work primarily as practitioners: as performers, composers, ensemble directors, and promoters. The mix of paper presentations, roundtables, and performances will build on the overlap and connections between these constituencies, whose priorities and attentions may differ but who fundamentally share a common cause.

By posing the question of the state of Indonesian music itself, we invoke an old concern of Indonesianist ethnomusicologists with “endangered” musics. We do so not as a salvage-paradigm call to “save the gamelan,” but instead to encourage a fresh assessment of ongoing efforts to invigorate Indonesian music: to identify more clearly the challenges it faces, and to examine how the work of giving music life and meaning changes how it lives and what it means. We seek to keep traditional musics squarely within our frame, but not to the exclusion of other musics, whatever their state. Our invitation thus extends to those involved with Indonesia’s many music scenes, and our focus to the full range of responses to various changing circumstances. We also take note of the growing interest in sound beyond music. In all cases, we are concerned with the state of the field in the broadest sense: not simply with vitality and viability, but with how music and sound intersect with gender, religion, media, economy, politics, and civil society, as well as with aesthetic, social, and ethical questions.

Please visit the conference website for the full schedule and locations:

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Event Type

Conference/Workshop, Music


Music, Comparative Muslim Societies Program, Southeast Asia Program


Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Divya Sriram

Contact Phone


Open To

Cornell Public

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