This essay will be discussing and comparing two types of music and dance cultures that were studied in this module; North Indian music and dance, and Indonesian/Java music and dance. These two traditions will be analyzed within the themes of Sound and Space, Text and Context, Repertoire and Practice, Community and Identity. Some of the terms that will be discussed, compared and contrasted are Kathak ( North Indian dance form), tala and raga (musical meter and the fabric of a melodic structure), from the North Indian traditions, and Tari (Indonesian dance form), Dangdut ( a genre of Indonesian folk and traditional popular music that is partly derived from Hindustani, Malay, and Arabic music), and gamelan (traditional ensemble music) from the Indonesian and Java traditions. This essay will mainly be focusing on North Indian classical music, North Indian classical dance, Javanese Gamelan, Indonesian popular music and dance, and classical music and dance in Java.
North Indian classical music or ??striya Sa?g?t (also known as Hindustani classical music) is the traditional music of northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. It originates from the 12th century, when it split from Carnatic music, the classical tradition of southern regions of the Indian subcontinent. Hindustani classical music has strongly influenced Indonesian classical music and Dangdut popular music, especially in terms of instrumentation, melody, and beat. Aside from vocal music, which is thought to be of the utmost importance, its main instruments are the sitar and sarod. Classical music can be divided into melody and rhythm; there is no concept of harmony. The sitar is a plucked stringed instrument, beginning in the Indian subcontinent, often used in Hindustani classical music. It takes its distinctive timbre and resonance from sympathetic strings, bridge design, a long hollow neck and a gourd-shaped resonance chamber. In appearance, the sitar is very close to the tanpura, another long-necked plucked string instrument from India, except that the sitar has frets and the tampura does not. The sarod is a stringed instrument, used mainly in Hindustani music on the Indian subcontinent. Along with the sitar, it is among the most popular and prominent instruments. The sarod is known for a deep, weighty, introspective sound, in contrast with the sweet, overtone-rich texture of the sitar. It has no frets, meaning it is able to produce the continuous slides between notes in Indian music.
Javanese Gamelan, also known as Karawitan, is the traditional ensemble music of Indonesia, made up mostly of tuned percussive instruments. The most common instruments used within gamelan are metallophones, played by mallets and a set of hand-played drums called kendhang which register the beat and control the tempo and rhythm of pieces as well as the transitions from one section to another. Other instruments include a gong, a bonang, xylophones, bamboo flutes, a bowed instrument called a rebab, and even vocalists called sindhen. It uses the tuning system of Slendro and Pelog. Slendro is a pentatonic scale, the older of the two most common scales used in Indonesian gamelan music, the other being pelog. The five pitches of the Javanese scale are roughly equally spaced within the octave.
As in pelog, although the intervals vary from one gamelan to the next, the intervals between notes in a scale are very close to identical for different instruments within the same gamelan. Pelog has seven notes, but lots of gamelan ensembles only have keys for five of the pitches. Even in ensembles that have all seven of the notes, many pieces only use a subset of five notes.
Kathak is the Hindi name for one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. The origin of Kathak is traditionally associated with the traveling bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers. The term Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word Katha which means “story”, and Kathaka which translates to “the one who tells a story”, or “to do with stories”. Wandering Kathakars told stories from the great epics and ancient mythology through dance, songs and music. Kathak dancers tell various stories through their hand movements and footwork, but most importantly through their facial expressions. Kathak evolved during the Bhakti movement, particularly by incorporating the childhood and stories of the Hindu god Krishna, as well as independently in the courts of north Indian kingdoms, where kathak dancers often performed for the entertainment of royalty.
Tari is the name of the Javanese classical dance tradition. It can be divided into two different categories of Tari; Tari kraton which is the palace dances, and
Tari kawulo which is the commoner dances. It goes hand in hand with Gamelan, and there are specific dances that go with specific songs and compositions. It is an extremely refined style of dance that has highly stylized costumes. It is mostly made up of subtle hand gestures and movements, and the dances themselves usually tell a story, containing characters played by the dancer. These characters are either very refined and divine, or very coarse and human, and these different traits are shown by the dancer’s movement, timing, and facial expressions. Wayang wong, also known as Wayang orang is another well known, popular type of classical Javanese dance theatrical performance, with themes taken from episodes of the Ramayana or Mahabharata. Performances are very stylised, reflecting Javanese court culture. It is a total theatre performance involving dance, drama, music, visual arts, language, and literature, all combined into one show. Javanese dance traditions try to display a finesse, and at the same time a serene composure which is elevated far above everything mundane.
Tala is the term used in Indian classical music to refer to the musical meter that is any rhythmic beat or strike that measures musical time. This measure is usually established by hand clapping, hand waving, touching fingers on the thigh or the other hand, verbally, through the striking of small cymbals, or a percussion instrument in the Indian traditions