“Pop” music is known as music of the masses, but it takes different forms in every culture. With the common thread of Western influence, it is interesting to see what other cultures create. In Indonesia, these creations take multiple forms. The videos below demonstrate different aspects of Indonesian pop music that involved the incorporation of social, political and religious ideas as well as the integration of tradition and modernity. Both videos allow the viewer to see and hear the fusion of East and West. Play the videos first without watching it and then play it again to see the instruments that are being used to make this music. The interesting combinations of sounds and genres can be noticed through both the audio and video.
The impact of Western culture on the creation of pop music began simply with the introduction of Western instruments to this part of the world. The Europeans brought with them “their string and brass instruments along with European vocal styles” (McGraw). These introductions were important to the growth of Indonesian pop, but the generation that brought about the more contemporary incorporation of Western culture and influence to Indonesian music came with the style of dangdut that is demonstrated in this video below. Dangdut appropriately falls into the category of pop music for the masses because
“Dangdut grew out of poor, urban Indonesian culture and sung of the hopes, loves and destitution of the country’s lower classes” (McGraw).
The artist highlighted in this video and in the textbook is Rhoma Irama. His motivation to create this fusion music was fueled by an initial interest in Western rock, so he wanted to be able to provide an Indonesian sound that also suited the musical tastes of the younger and more modern generation. This performance shows the combination of rock instruments and traditional instruments and how they are incorporated to make a more Eastern sound.
With this analysis of this aspect of Indonesian culture I wanted to point out that there are interestingly different styles of Indonesian pop music. This video shows an aspect of Indonesian pop music with a performance by the Krakatau group. In the text Titon mentions, “Krakatau involves a careful synthesis of Sundanese gamelan and fusion jazz” (347). In many of the videos of Krakatau performances the vocals are not present, but the addition of vocals in this video accentuates more of the Sundanese themes as opposed to the jazz themes. The singer uses the same dynamics and whispering techniques that many jazz musicians and singers use, but the language in which she is singing as well as the tones she uses infuses the Sundanese aspect of the music.
Globalization is very apparent through both of these videos. However, as we have spoken about in class it gets difficult to trace back the origin of many different sounds, styles, and instruments because we do not know if things developed simultaneously in different countries or if they were introduced through merchants. While these videos show apparent differences and influences they may be harder to recognize through just sound. For example, Irama’s use of Indian and Malaysian influence could easily be lost in the future. Not only are the sounds of these performances very interesting in understanding the evolution of Indonesian music, but watching them also shows the performances are very different in scale and social setting from the traditional gamelan music. They are used for very different purposes. The physical juxtaposition of the different instruments in these videos looked peculiar to me at first, but the sound and harmony they create together makes a very pleasing sound. Even though the Krakatau group uses the gamelan the music they produce would not be used at festivals or rituals like in the Javanese culture or in processions like in the Bali culture.
McGraw, Andrew. “Indonesian Pop Music.” National Geographic. Web. <http://worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com/view/page.basic/genre/content.genre/indonesian_pop_731/en_US>.
Sutton, R. Anderson. “Asia/Music of Indonesia.” Worlds of Music: an Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples. By Jeff Todd Titon. Belmont, CA: Schirmer Cengage Learning, 2009. 345-52. Print.