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The First International Conference and Festival on the ‘Cultural Identity of Buleleng’  

by on Monday, 1 June 2009No Comment | 1,382 views

Logo North BaliThe First International Conference and Festival on the ‘Cultural Identity of Buleleng’ will be held from July 30 until 2 August, 2009 at The Bali Taman Hotel, Lovina Beach. Its aim is to (re-)discover the cultural heritage of the Buleleng regency, to describe, discuss and expose its artistic identity, and to stimulate the revitalization of its performing arts in particular. Highlights of the festival include a mabarung (competition) between east and west Buleleng gong kebyar orchestras, an evening featuring rare and sacred ensembles, and the presentation of contemporary and newly commissioned works. All concerts feature seniman tua (old masters).

As for the conference, lecture-demonstrations will be given on the specific characteristics of North Balinese performing arts, and its interactions with south Bali. The conference also marks the opening of Roots of North Balinese culture, an exhibition of old photographs of parba, drawings, prasi and other works that have been preserved in Dutch libraries. So far there are five speakers who have submitted their abstracts; here are their abstracts:

Historical North Balinese photo documentation
Maurizio Rosenberg Colorni

Singaraja TempleMaurizio Rosenberg Colorni is an anthropologist, journalist and photographer. In the last 35 years he has published many books in Italy and France. In his illustrated speech, he will address photography as a precious means of documenting the history of the past 150 years. It provides a way to understand the daily life of the people of different social levels, resulting in a ‘visual anthropology’ of a people. Buleleng has a rich photo documentation of its past, now hidden and dispersed. The challenge is to (re)collect it and make it available to the researchers in the fields of architecture, performing arts (music, dance and theatre), handicraft and paintings, and also to the general public.

Bali 1928: Gamelan Gong Kebyar of Busungbiu, Belaluan and Pangkung
The Oldest New Music of Bali
Edward Herbst

Jegong Gantung, Jublag GantungEdward Herbst’s ongoing work in Bali has involved the remarkable recordings made by Odeon-Beka in 1928. He initiated a repatriation project that involves publishing five CDs, which will include every gending released by Odeon-Beka (104 tracks), restored to maximum audibility, along with a collection of brief silent film excerpts shot in the 1930s by Colin McPhee, Covarrubias, and Rolf de Maré. CD#1, “Gamelan Gong Kebyar: Belaluan, Pangkung, Busungbiu,” will be released early June in New York and then soon after in Bali on DVD and cassette (project advisors are Madé Bandem, Wayan Dibia, and Endo Suanda). It took eight years to locate and gain access to all of the 78 rpm records, which have been preserved in archives throughout the world.

The main purpose of this project is to make available to the Balinese public and educators (and to the international community as well) these important artistic resources. Up until now there has been a historical gap due to an absence of bukti (evidence) for an audio/visual history, so young dancers and musicians have learned without seeing or hearing these recordings featuring the forms’ originators. Herbst’s research involves bringing the music recordings (played on a boombox) and the films (on laptop) to the oldest generation of musicians, singers and dancers, now in their 80s and 90s. Through watching and listening together (also involving a Balinese team consisting of Ketut Kodi and Ni Ketut Suryatini), and discussing the original aesthetics, techniques, world views, personalities, social dynamics and little anecdotes, there emerges an artistic/cultural history. These insights and information give contemporary Balinese artists an understanding of the bold experimentation and innovation, istilah, and proses penciptaan which went into these important early 20th century forms. This research is being written up in extensive CD notes, and will also be compiled in a book once the project reaches completion next year.

Edward Herbst will present the recordings and a synopsis of research findings. The key perspective relating to Buléléng involves specific musical techniques and styles used by Busungbiu, pre-dating Pangkung and Belaluan, which were later used by Wayan Beratha for his Jaya Semara. Another fascinating aspect is the influence of palégongan on early kebyar Buléléng, as well as sekatian-style elaboration, such as oncangan, on all three regional styles (Buleleng, Tabanan and Badung). Some research (Wayan Simpen) suggests that key kebyar dance innovations (igel jongkok) occurred in Buléléng before I Marya developed them further in the South. Another interesting musical piece recorded in 1928 is Palawakya, integrating kakawin/mabasan singing with gong kebyar. Herbst’s research has yielded personal stories from the children of the 1928 musicians and other seniman tua, such as Wayan Begeg of Pangkung, Beratha, Putu Sumiasa of Kedis, and the oldest musicians of Busungbiu. They recollected how Busungbiu (Wayan Patra et al.) and Belaluan (Madé Regog, Ida Boda) exchanged their kebyar and palégongan styles.

Just a matter of manis and keras?
Differences and similarities in kebyar dance between north and south Bali.

Aafke de Jong

ab02031165x1155600North Balinese dance is often described as being more energetic and fierce than the dance styles of the south. Is this comparison fair enough? Aafke de Jong will present an interview and demonstration with two female dancers: the north Balinese dancer Ni Putu Rima Febriana and a south Balinese dancer. During the interview the following topics will be addressed:

– The way of learning kebyar dance in their own region: Who were their teachers and which specific qualities must a kebyar dancer have in north and south Bali?

– The difference in style between north and south Balinese kebyar dance: Is it still as visible today as it was 20 to 30 years ago (or longer)? Since both dancers are still in their twenties, two older kebyar dancers will be invited to illustrate the difference: Ibu Jero Puspawati from Denpasar, who specialised in south Balinese kebyar dances (kebyar bebancihan) and Ni Luh Menek from Jagaraga.

– The role of the music: What role does the music play in creating this difference?

– Previous training: Will a dancer trained in a specific style be capable of performing in another style? Rima Febriana is trained in the north Balinese style, but nowadays studies at ISI Denpasar. Will her north Balinese background always be visible in her performance?

– Mutual exchange: What is the role of exchange between north and south Balinese kebyar dance styles?

– What can we do to preserve both styles?

All dancers will present excerpts of the Taruna Jaya dance to illustrate the differences and similarities between the two styles, and its historical development.

Culture, Locality, and Identity: Key Concepts for Equitable Tourism Development
Yongjin Kim

klv001076936-1865-kins-gambuh-orch-raja-bllngThis paper examines some key concepts for equitable tourism development at the regency level in contemporary Bali. Specifically, it reviews the concepts of culture, locality, and identity. By focusing on different levels of generalization in those concepts, and thereby adopting a “telescopic” view rather than a “mosaic” view, this paper attempts to find a ground for the compatibility of group identities at different levels. At the same time, it focuses on the constructive nature of group identity and the selective nature of cultural representation.

It further argues that the prevalent images of Balinese culture have been centered on the elements mainly from South Bali, and that the category of “Bali” has been used in slippery ways. However, simple reversion of the Southern hegemony by replacing it with the Northern one would not be a relevant solution. Rather than plainly dismissing the overrepresentation of the South, which has been based on politico-economic and demographic factors, this paper suggests for a long-term process of consensus making across different local interests. This suggestion is in line with the consolidation of participatory democracy and the realization of regional autonomy, which should not be equated with provincialism, inefficiency, disorder, and lack of coordination. By empowering regency level agents, one might expect for “new” elements for cultural representation in tourism, as well as for more equitable development.

An analysis of various parameters of the north Bali kebyar style
Éric Vandal

gangsa-pacek-kantilan-10-deThe specific characteristics that musically define the north Bali kebyar style can often be quite subtle and hard to perceive. Therefore, this presentation will aim at identifying and analysing some of those elements. The first step of this process will consist in filtering the various sound parameters by relying on Balinese musicians’ views, and what they focus on to correctly identify the Buleleng style. Through this procedure we end up with relevant parameters pertaining mainly to performance: tempo and dynamics, as well as aspects of improvisation and ornementation specific to some instruments of the gong kebyar. Secondly, these elements will be assessed through a comparative analysis of recordings of Kebyar Duduk and Taruna Jaya (by ensembles from north Bali and elsewhere), in order to attest the relevance of the various parameters and to detail how they are articulated in the actual music.

We still welcome contributions to the conference. Let yourself be inspired by the program below! We strongly hope that all known performers and scholars in the field will consider participating. We also hope young experts and artists will be present in large numbers.

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