Innovation and Change in Approaches to Balinese Gamelan Composition
This article addresses newly developed approaches to gamelan composition among Balinese composers by focusing on changes and innovations within tradition. Balinese composers today represent a cross-section of arts communities who collectively have produced some of the most innovative gamelan compositions in nearly half a century. Subjected to increasingly cosmopolitan reviews from both conservative and progressive audiences, these composers encapsulate the shifting ideals of a generation who value new aesthetic paradigms that increasingly diverge from the history, tradition and legacy of their traditional Balinese predecessors. In the fiercely competitive world of gamelan group rivalry, struggles and triumphs between contemporary composers have always seen creative boundaries pushed to their limits. I examine some of these triumphs and limitations by examining the creative output of six representative Balinese composers who contend with innovation and its reception in local contexts. I argue that innovations in gamelan serve as benchmarks that demarcate creative spaces and approaches while simultaneously testing the real-world confines of changing traditions.
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