Innovation and Change in Approaches to Balinese Gamelan Composition


  • I Komang Sudirga ISI Denpasar



balinese gamelan, contemporary composition, cultural matrices, innovation


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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Author Biography

I Komang Sudirga, ISI Denpasar

I Komang Sudirga is a lecturer at the Faculty of Performing Arts at the Indonesian Institute of Arts Denpasar in Bali, Indonesia. He is also the current dean of this faculty. I Komang has a master’s degree from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta (1998-2001) and a doctoral degree in Cultural Studies from Universitas Udayana, Denpasar, Bali (2008-2012). After completing his studies, I Komang led several research projects as principal investigator and continued to perform as an active arts practitioner. I Komang has presented papers at international conferences and performed at several countries including Sweden (1991), Spain (1992), Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland (1995), Thailand (1996), Japan (1997, 2004), India (1998), Maldives (2007), Cambodia (2007), and France (2008).


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How to Cite

Sudirga, I. K. (2020). Innovation and Change in Approaches to Balinese Gamelan Composition. Malaysian Journal of Music, 9, 42–54.