Foreign Sindhen in Practice: New Teaching Strategies and the Impact of Practice-Led Research on Javanese Female Singing
Practice-led research has a long history in ethnomusicology and is currently reconsidered in many academic contexts all over the world. There has not been much literature written on the effects that a long-term active immersion in the music culture investigated can have on the “researched”, the “researcher” and the “research” itself. I experienced some of these effects as a native Italian who spent seven years learning, performing and researching in Java, Indonesia. I conducted my research led by the practice, inspired by the bi-musicality approach. Learning, performing and researching are approaches interrelated with each other and determine some interesting developments of investigation, not only within the research context, but in the research methodology itself. In this paper, I discuss the pros and cons of the practice-led research experience within the Javanese singing framework, considering the following specific aspects—new teaching strategies adopted by Javanese teachers to transmit knowledge to a foreign researcher; challenges encountered by a foreign singer on a shadow puppet theatre stage; the way in which local artists and audience take part in the research process and how the fieldwork might affect the researcher’s mentality and shape her/his approach. This article reflects on new outcomes produced by the encounter of practice and research, opening a debate about the possible collaborations and methodological exchanges between teachers, artists and researchers. It suggests that performing and understanding music should be heard and be included in the debate based on personal experience as performer and researcher.
Baily, J. (2001). Learning to perform as a research technique in ethnomusicology. The British Journal of Ethnomusicology, 10 (2), 85-98.
Bartz, G. & Cooley T. J. (Eds.). (1997). Shadows in the field: New perspectives for fieldwork in Ethnomusicology. Oxford University Press.
Benamou, M. (2010). Rasa: Affect and intuition in Javanese musical aesthetics. Oxford University Press.
Blacking, J. (1967). Venda children's songs: A study in ethnomusicological analysis. Witwatersrand University Press.
Blacking, J. (1973). How musical is man? University of Washington Press.
Blacking, J. (1977). An introduction to Venda traditional dances. Dance Studies, 2, 34-56.
Brinner, B. (2008). Music in Central Java. Experiencing M=music, Expressing culture. Oxford University Press.
Candy, L. (2006). Practice-based Research: A guide. http://www. creativityandcognition.com/resources/PBR%20Guide-1.1-2006.pdf.
Cooper, N. (2000). Singing and silence: Transformations of power through Javanese seduction scenarios. American Ethnologist, 27(3), 609-644.
Dean, R. T. & Smith, H. (Eds.). (2009). Practice-led research, research-led practice in the creative arts: Research methods for the arts and humanities. Edinburgh University Press.
Di Bernardi, V. (1995). Introduzione allo Studio del Teatro Indonesiano: Giava e Bali. La Casa Usher.
Giannattasio, F. (2017). Perspectives on a 21st century comparative musicology: An introduction. In Giannattasio F. & Giuriati G. (Eds.). Perspectives on a 21st century comparative musicology: Ethnomusicology or transcultural musicology? (pp. 10-29). Nota, Intersezioni Musicali.
Giannattasio, F. & Giuriati, G. (Eds.). (2017). Perspectives on a 21st century comparative musicology: Ethnomusicology or transcultural musicology? Nota, Intersezioni Musicali.
Giuriati, G. & Hood, M. (1995). La voie du gamelan. Entretien avec Ki Mantle Hood. Chaiers d’ethnomusicologie, 8, 193-214.
Gong'n'Roll. (2020, June 29). Sindhen Titik Sumiarish Ladrang Wilujeng [Video].YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQYCu9RTG48 .
Gong'n'Roll. (2020, June 29). Sindhen Docor Goro Goro [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RNF4QSJx2c
Hood, M. (1960). The Challenge of Bi-Musicality. Ethnomusicology 4(2), 55-59.
Jones, A. M. (1934). African drumming. Bantu Studies 8, 1-16.
Kisliuk, M. (1997). Undoing fieldwork: Sharing songs, sharing lives. In G. Bartz & T.J. Cooley (Eds.). Shadows in the field: New perspectives for fieldwork in ethnomusicology (pp. 23-44). Oxford University Press.
Lockard, C. A. (1998) Dance of life: Popular music and politics in Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press.
Lysloff, R. (2001). Rural Javanese “tradition” and erotic subversion: Female dance performance in Banyumas (Central Java). Asian Music, 33(1), 1-24.
McDonald, M. K. (2005). Estill voice training system level one: Compulsory figures for voice control, think voice series, Estill Voice Training System International, Pittsburgh.
Meloni, I. (2021). Show time for the sindhen or the time of limbukan: New performance practices and musical repertoires in the comic interlude of Yogyanese wayang kulit. In G. Giuriati (Ed.). Patterns of change in the traditional music of Southeast Asia. Nota, Intersezioni Musicali.
Mrázek, J. (2005). Phenomenology of a puppet theatre. KITLV Press.
Penny, J. (2014). Reflections on practice-led research methods and their application in music performance research. Malaysian Journal of Music, 3(2), 84-92.
Rahayu, S. (2017). Garap sindhenan Surabayan Jawa Timur. Penerbit ISI Surakarta.
Rice, T. (2014). Ethnomusicology. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press.
Sedana, I. N. (2005). Collaborative music in the performance of Balinese shadow theatre. Asian Music, 36(1), 44-59.
Solís, T. (Ed). (2004). Performing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and representation in world music ensembles. University of California Press.
Sumarsam. (2004). Opportunity and interaction. The gamelan from Java to Wesleyan. In T. Solis (Ed). Performing Ethnomusicology. University of California Press.
Sutton, R. A. (1984). Who is the pesindhen? Notes on the female singing tradition in Java. Indonesia, 37, 119-133.
Sutton, R. A. (1987). Variation and composition in Java. Yearbook for Traditional Music, 19, 65-95.
Sutton, R. A. (1991). Traditions of gamelan music in Java: Musical pluralism and regional identity. Cambridge University Press.
Turino, T. (2008). Music as social life. The politics of participation. University of Chicago Press.
Walton, S. (1987). Mode in Javanese music. Ohio University Press.
Copyright (c) 2021 Ilaria Meloni
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.