Calung Banyumasan:

Borderland Identity Through the Lens of Musical Technique


  • Sean Hayward California Institute of the Arts
  • Darno Kartawi



bamboo music, Banyumas, borderland, calung, Javanese


The music of the Banyumas region in west Central Java contains a complex blend of cultural influences, spurred on by the influence of neighbouring regions, the institutionalisation of Javanese classical music and the spread of recording technology. The bamboo calung ensemble is viewed as traditional; however, most of the standard techniques, instruments and forms are relatively modern. Specifically due to this artificiality and resultant flexibility, the musical techniques that have become standard practice in calung can be used as a lens through which to view local identity and representation in a borderland culture. The music played by the calung ensemble distinguishes itself from the court music of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, while drawing on its techniques as a means for development. Elements of Sundanese music become forces for inspiration in the context of entertainment and commercialism, with expert musicians preferring incorporation above imitation. Calung thus acts as a site for the assertion of Banyumas cultural identity. Through interviews and musical analysis, the authors claim that Banyumas is not merely a blend of surrounding cultures, but rather a distinct sub-cultural group.


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How to Cite

Hayward, S., & Kartawi, D. (2023). Calung Banyumasan:: Borderland Identity Through the Lens of Musical Technique. Malaysian Journal of Music, 12(2), 61–75.