Indonesian president is a metal head

Indonesian president is a metal head

Also known as Jokowi, Joko Widodo is President of Indonesia since the elections of 2014, and ever since he has changed the political landscape of the country with his different personality. For starters, he is the first Indonesian president not to come from an elite political or military background, he is a humble man, he's not letting religion lead politics like other politicians do in Indonesia and unlike former rulers, he is famously known as a metal head.

Upon winning the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election, he improved the city's bureaucracy, reduced corruption, introduced programs to improve quality of life in the city - such as healthcare and dredging the city's main river to reduce flooding - and he inaugurated construction of the city's subway system.

After all these reforms, he started to gain prominence in Indonesian politicians and became increasingly popular amongst Indonesians. That is when PDI-P nominated him as their presidential candidate in the 2014 presidential election, and the rest is History.

But there is much more to Joko Widodo than his political accomplishments. He is also loves metal music, which is also a reflection of the country's music scene. According to The Economist, Kokowi “has a penchant for loud rock music” and he even owned a bass guitar signed by Robert Trujillo of heavy metal band Metallica. Unfortunately, the guitar was confiscated by the anti-corruption commission, KPK. While he was the Governor of Jakarta, he was seen in the rock festival Rock in Solo. He also attended the festival in 2011.

Clearly, he is a big fan of Metallica, but he is also a professed fan of Lamb of God, Led Zeppelin, and Napalm Dead. The latter band is famous for their humanist, socialist and political views. Although Nepalm Death went as far as congratulating the president on their Facebook page, they also criticized him after the Bali Nine and the Lindsay Sandiford case. This band wasn't the only band who criticized the president for those cases, but he also came under the fire from other bands within the metal scene, such as Tony Iommi, after their their pleas for clemency were ignored.

Axl Rose was another artist who pleaded for clemency fo two members of the so-called “Bali Nine”- nine people arrested in 2005 for allegedly planning to smuggle heroin out of Denpasar - and he went as far as sending a letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo. According rep for Axl Rose told Rolling Stone magazine that the rocker made his letter public because was “quite upset with such injustice.”

The Guns N' Roses singer wrote in the letter: "I appeal to you Mr. President, Mr. Joko Widodo to use your show your country's strength and allow the world to witness an extraordinary act of humanity and bravery on yours and your country's part." Rose also sent the letter to three ambassadors and the chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia.

"Their crimes were now long ago, their hearts and minds forever changed by their crimes," Rose wrote. "In a world where the bad often outweighs the good and evil and negativity would appear more and more prevalent we need and can use every person choosing to make a difference.... In doing so we show the entire world that we are capable of forgiveness and mercy, a much greater sense of courage, strength and humanity and being so much more than that which seeks to overcome and destroy us."

Rose wrote that not sparing the prisoners' lives would be a "cold, cruel and uncaring message of hopelessness," and he pleaded that Joko not be "blinded by rigidity and inflexibility." He also described their death sentences as "draconian" and the act of killing them "barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful."

Rose wrote that "executing those on the bottom rungs of the ladder in the chain of drug trafficking...seems more than unfair." He continued. "Only the lives of these three human beings are what's important now."

He closed the letter by asking Joko to consider the message he is sending. "You've made your point and struck fear in both the hearts and minds of the condemned and anyone even remotely considering bad choices or already involved in those worlds," Rose wrote. "Life is the only thing important now, not death but life."

Despite Rose's letter, the government executed eight people – seven of whom were foreigners, including Chan and Sukumaran. Accordingly, Joko had said that the country was facing "a national emergency" of drug abuse which is why the pleas for mercy were rejected.

Joko Widodo's popularity as a metalhead has also reached Scandinavian shores, and when Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen Løkke Rasmussen visited Jakarta on diplomatic terms, he gifted Widodo a Metallica Master of Puppets vinyl box set, which was signed by the band's drummer and co-founder, Lars Ulrich, a Danish native. Widodo paid 11 million rupiah out of his own money to claim the record and avoid accusations of corruption.

Ulrich commented on the diplomatic gift on his Instagram account: “This is way cool… I signed an MOP box set for Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen to give to Indonesian President Joko Widodo who is well known as a huge fan of rock music and came to see us in Jakarta in ‘13… music really does connect people!!!”

The all-girl Muslim metal band in Indonesia

The all-girl Muslim metal band in Indonesia

Indonesia is the breeding ground of many unique artists but none is parallel to the hijab-wearing Muslim metal band VoB (“Voice of Baceprot” or “Noisy Voice”). The band's name literally means “noisy” in the Sundanese language the three members speak. Coming from a rural, conservative part of Indonesia - West Java - hasn't stopped VoB from being a noisy band inspired by the likes of metal music legends such as Slipknot, Lamb of God and Rage Against the Machine.

The band's noisy and transgressive music, however, what is causing a stir in West Java, but the fact that Voice of Baceprot's members are all hijab-wearing Muslim teenage schoolgirls: vocalist and guitarist Fridda Kurnia, drummer Eusi Siti Aisyah and bassist Widi Rahmawati. Born to local farmers, they grew up poor and attend one of the many madrassas, or Muslim schools, in the area. That is where they were introduced to metal music by their middle school guidance counselor, Ahba Erza. “I don't know why the girls love the metal bands,” says Erza, who didn't just teach the girls to play the instruments but is also their band manager. Ever since the music genre has become their life. “I found myself in the metal music,” said Kurnia.

Clearly, this all-teenaged-girls group is not your typical metal band. To begin with, there's no crazy hair bouncing back and forth. But like many other metal bands, they have a political voice, and this one in particular stands out for Muslim women and it combats the stereotype of them as being submissive or voiceless.

The band of teeagers started back in 2004 upon meeting at school in Indonesia's most populous province of West Java. Ever since, they've been challenging stereotypes and defending Muslim women's rights to accomplish whatever they set out to do. VoB's lead singer and guitarist, Firdda Kurnia, said that wearing a hijab, or Islamic head scarf, should not deter the group from pursuing their dream to become great heavy metal stars.

“I think gender equality should be supported, because I feel I am still exploring my creativity, while at the same time, not diminishing my obligations as a Muslim woman,” she added.

After performing at a graduation ceremony at another school, the band was well received by the students, who danced and banged their heads to the beat of their music.

“I don't see anything wrong with it,” said one fan who attended, Teti Putriwulandari Sari. “There's no law that bars hijab-wearing women from playing hardcore music. This also relates to human rights. If a Muslim girl has a talent to play the drums or a guitar, should she not be allowed?”

The band's performance included classics by groups such as Metallica and Slipknot, but they also included some of their own songs. VoB are true to the origins of metal rock music and they use their songs to voice issues such as the state of education in Indonesia. With the band's growing popularity, it is fast becoming part of a burgeoning underground metal scene in the country. They have even performed on Indonesia's most popular television variety show, a real milestone for the band, particularly because it means that young women are stirring sensations across their conservative community and their country.

But it hasn't only been open doors for the young band. With Muslims making up nearly 90 percent of a population of 250 million out of which some practice a conservative form of Islam, some Indonesians are not ready for them and some don't think their music is appropriate for performance by young Muslim women.

“It is unusual to see a group of hijab-wearing girls playing metal music or even women shouting,” said Muhammad Sholeh, a teacher at the town's Cipari Islamic boarding school, adding that religious pop music was popular with many young Muslims. “But we're talking about metal here, which is loud.”

A student at the school felt the band should sing“Salawat”, an invocation to the religion's founder, Prophet Muhammad, instead.

Meanwhile, Nur Khamim Djuremi, secretary general of the Islamic Art and Culture Division of Indonesia's Ulema Council, said that although the band might cause commotion in a conservative area, as far as he knew it didn't break any Islamic values. He said, “I see this as part of the creativity of teenagers.”

Indonesia inventor of strange music instruments

Indonesia inventor of strange music instruments

Doc Brown may have invented a vehicle that travels through time, and the Swiss scientist Victor Fankenstein may have topped the charts of mad scientists when he created life in the form of a horrible monster, but these pop culture mad inventors have nothing on an Indonesian artist who creates strange musical instruments out of mechanical spare parts.

Slamet Wiyono, also known as Slamet Jenggot, which means “Bearded Slamet” is a Bekasi-based architect, painter and musician who drew inspiration to create these peculiar instruments from his hobby of dismantling mechanical components. This frenzy started back in 2012 when he created his first instrument. Ever since, he has been using auto spare parts he finds on the side of the road or collects from auto repair shops to assemble his musical creations.

"The way I work is very organic. I avoid using a welding machine to combine these aluminum and steel pieces for my instrument," Slamet told The Jakarta Globe. One of his creations is a hand-cranked music box which consists of over 500 kilograms of steel and aluminum plates assembled together with metal bolts.

This instrument creates unusual yer harmonious music by activating a bass, drum, guitar, kick drum, cymbal and other instruments. The Indonesian artist views this machine as a groundbreaking invention that allows us to do something that is not humanly possible to do with the body or the mind. "I am always fascinated by the relationship between art, technology and science. To me, my work shows how these three elements can work together to create a unity," the 66-year-old inventor said. This colossal instrument also is made out of several kitchen implements, including scales, portable stoves and frying pans.

According to Slamet, his modus operandis while making this strange instruments stems from his educational background. "My work combines art design and machines. I studied architecture and I have a passion for all things automotive.”

Although this huge instrument might resemble an instrument and it might induce you to think so given Slamet's fascination for all things automotive, he claims he never intended for it come out that way, because he is also trying to create art with his musical instruments and art is subjective. He wants people to have their perception and interpretation of the instrument.

Apart from being music instruments and artistic creations, Slamet also uses his work as a escape valve to his political thoughts. He said some of the instruments manifest his disappointment with political discrimination, intolerance and greedy leaders. "People often ask why I created this monstrosity. I said, this is the way I express my fondness for art and a creative way to voice [my] anxiety about the world," Slamet said. For instance, the scale stands for all the imbalances he sees in Indonesian politics.

Although some people might not understand or like Slamet's work, there are others who truly appreciate it and have even expressed their desire to purchase some of his instruments. Unfortunately for them, however, Slamet said he would never sell his creations. "I like what I create and I have no intention to sell it. Many of my artist friends said I can make a lot of profit but this is not about money. It's about my passion," Slamet said.

Even if he sold these instruments, they would be hard to play for any seasoned musician as they do not follow a diatonic scale like conventional music instruments. "When I perform, my instrument cannot follow the guitar, drum or piano, they have to follow me. Because I did not create it to follow a conventional musical scale.”

This peculiar creator makes up for it by hosting a workshop where he teaches attendees how to create musical instruments the way he does, and also for those who are interested in kinetic art. Attendees range from university students and artists and music lovers in general who regularly join him in Bekasi.

He also holds workshops outside his house and his latest project was even accepted to be showcased in the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang. "They asked me to create 15 kinetic art installation made of aluminum and steel, just like what I did," Slamet told The Jakarta Globe.

This multifaceted artist has two studios, one for his paintings in Durent Sawit, East Jakarta, and the musical instrument workshop he has at home. Although he is popularity keeps growing, he said there are no plans to open up any more studios in the works. "I prefer to have people come to my house,” he explained. “It's always nice to have people around."

That might change in the future as the 66-year-old artist is starting get more and more recognition for his work. While he is not widely known in Jakarta, Slamet's work is widely recognised by Indonesia's art communities. So far he has performed in several musical festival and has even taken to the stage in plays.

Indonesian music culture from 1997-2001

Indonesian music culture from 1997-2001

Musician, anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, and assistant professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University, Jeremy Wallach has delved into Indonesian music culture with new book, “Modern Noise, Fluid Genres: Popular Music in Indonesia 1997-2001” which he wrote in Bahasa Indonesia.

Soon after Wallach started doing fieldwork for his book, the country started to undergo a dramatic political transformation in 1998. This timely coincidence allowed him to witness a direct relationship between the underground music and the growing opposition movement that sought to challenge Soeharto's repressive regime.

Wallach interviewed Indonesian music communities - from punk to metal and dangdut - that took over the airwaves of the country from the era of the New Order transition towards the Reformation Order to document this period.

His documentation stated back in 1997 when he relocated to the Southeast Asian country to study Indonesian pop culture. Although he was first deterred by Indonesian artists' unwillingness to speak about politics, the political unrest that followed that year sparked by the resignation of president Soeharto enabled him to meet with prominent figures in the Indonesian pop culture and political scene.

During that time, Jeremy was exposed to dangdut music in its optimistic phase. He also found himself in the midst of music movements organised by students and was exposed to youngsters starting their own punk and metal craze.

The book has carefully documented that era with thorough research and in-depth insight that goes beyond the pop music scene and also digs into underground music. It also explores what happens to local music when musicians and audiences are exposed to foreign cultural influences from far and wide. Wallach dives into this question against the backdrop of the evolving world of Indonesian music after the fall of the repressive Soeharto regime, and the chaotic transition to democracy.

Wallach visited Indonesia to promote the Indonesian version of his book “Modern Noise” by having a discussion at the American cultural centre. There he told the Jakarta Post about the expansion of metal music is a global phenomenon that has brought metal music aficionados closer, turning them into a global community in an increasingly interconnected world. He said that “it's certainly a phenomenon that can't be ignored and has led to a number of significant developments. First of all, it has led to the underground scene of local communities that are connected through zines, through internet sites, through recordings being traded back and forth across national boundaries that's connected through the global networks of scenes bu also has a strong local identity and a strong regional identity. So there is a sort of global social network that this is part of. And this scene also has a strong local identity.”

When asked if he thinks metal or underground music contributed to bringing down the New Order regime, Wallach said, “The contributions, I think, are hard to quantify. But we know certain things. We know that the underground scene had set up a social infrastructure. It helped set up social networks to people that are important for maintaining communities where activism could be supported. People in campuses, we know that through zines, through the circulation of underground artifacts, various radical lefties ideologies and theories of resistance of political opposition circulation through networks brought by young people. We know that certain opposition of consciousness was fostered by angry, resisting music. We know that a lot of heavy metal is very political despite what people think. Bands like Sepultura, Talga, Testament, Rage Against the Machine or System of a Down; their music was very political. It was about political systems and people knew this, and were influenced by it. Is there a direct connection? Probably you'll never find one, but there was definitely an overlap between the heavy metal community and the activist community. They moved in the same circles. So there was a connection.”

Through his thorough research and documentation of Indonesian music scene of that period, Wallach takes the reader on a joy ride across recording studios, music stores, concert venues, university campuses, video shoots, and urban neighbourhoods. By combining local ground-level ethnographic research with insights drawn from contemporary cultural theory, Wallach proves that exposure to globally circulating music and technologies has neither extinguished nor homogenised local music-making in Indonesia. If anything, according to Wallach, it has endowed young Indonesians with creative possibilities to explore their identity in a multicultural nation undergoing earth-shaking transformations in an exponentially interconnected world.

Through his documentation and studies, he concludes that the diversion nationalism of Indonesian popular music serves as an alternative to the religious, ethnic, regional, and class-based extremism that have been a menace to unity and democracy in Indonesia.

Zay Nova Indonesian country music singer

Zay Nova Indonesian country music singer

As surprising as it sounds, Zay Nova is an Indonesian country music songwriter and performer from Bangka, who has made it in it Canada. Some of the songs he has released were co-written with American songwriter, Jan Duke. “Head Above Water” is his first independent album to be released in Canada.

Zay Nova

is an artist who has worn many hats and worked at many different jobs, ranging from radio commercial mixer and radio music director, mime actor, painter, and host of a local TV show. After working as a radio announcer for 14 years, Zay launched his music career, but he employed well those previous years, which served to write his own material as well as material for other artists.

Upon meeting St. John's teacher, Anthony Murphy, in Jakarta, Zay Nova decided to gift Newfoundland with his unique music style, which combines the sounds of Southeast Asia with American country and western music. He told CBC Canada, “I've visited Vancouver, I've visited Toronto, but my heart is here, my heart is in St. John's.”

After seeing Nova perform, Murphy contacted Nova and they both kept in touch online. The encouragement from Murphy prompted Nova to take his unique music style to the streets of St. John, which welcomed him with open arms. Canada gave Nova a opportunity to launch his country music career he wouldn't have found in Indonesia.

As he explained, Indonesian music scene is not exactly psyched about country music, and Nova wasn't ready to compromise his artistic integrity and passion for country music. "Not many radios in my country are playing country, but they mix with pop or rock or something," he told CBC.

Instead of country and western music, it's the music style dangdut what has overtaken the airwaves of Indonesia. He added: "Just like country music, we have have traditional music called dangdut, which has a lot of fans there, but country and western is not really that common in Indonesia."

Upon arriving in British Columbia, Nova joined a bunch a troubadours who travel across the continent to showcase their music. Nova has confessed he really likes his home and locals. “They're really good to me and the people of Newfoundland. Everywhere I go, why do people say ‘Hello, my dear'?”

An artist through and through, Nova is currently working on his own unique version of country music, which will be a combination of Indonesian music and the southern United States.

Although you can only listen to Nova's music by going to his Soundcloud page, he is currently involved in different projects. He was invited to play the O'Rielly's open mic downtown, and is looking forward to getting gigs at other bars once he gets his name out there.

Although he has written over 500 songs, he is starting to write them in Canada to reach a larger audience. Some of the songs he has written and recorded so far in Canada include Molson Canadian Beer, Your Head Above Water and Your Husband is a Liar.

You can also check out his YouTube channel, where he showcases some of his music. Zay Nova is currently seeking a band and, particularly, a guitarist, to accompany him during his acoustic performances.

If he cannot find a whole band, he wants to assemble his own for his performances and thus he is looking for some of the following ones, in case you live in Canada and would like to join him: an accordion, background singer, bagpipes, banjo, bass guitar, vello, clarinet, DJ, dobro, drums, electronic music, fiddle, flute, harmonica, harp, keyboard, lead guitar, mandolin, other percussion, piano, rhythm guitar, saxophone, steel guitar, trombone, trumpet, ukulele, upright bass, violin, vocalist - either alto, soprano, tenor or baritone and bass.

Indonesian singer Yuka Kharisma

Indonesian singer Yuka Kharisma

Yuka Kharisma is a popular Indonesian singer-songwriter based in Kuala Lumpur. She rose to prominence after being semi-finalist of the fifth season of Indonesian Idol, and her career reached a new peak when she won the Best New Female Artist Award of the 15th Anugerah Planet Muzik. Her first single was Kita Harus Percaya, which she released in 2013, then she released a few singles that topped the charts such as Dengan Tiada Luka (2014), Hati Berbisik (2015), Ju Bersedia (2015), and Muara Cintaku (2016).

Recently, she had the opportunity to make her dream come true of performing alongside her two idols, Bunga Citra Lestari and Anuar Zain, at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre's Plenary Hall on April 28, 2018.

“This is my dream and thank God, it will come true soon,” she said about the BLC state show. “I have long wanted to share the edge with these two great figures.”

Anuar Zain is a multi-award-winning Malaysian singer, and Yuka Kharisma grew up listening to his music. Anuar Zain's first album was released in 1998, and he didn't a release any more singles for a while, until “Bila Resah.” His most recent album was this year. With so many years in the industry, he is an icon in the Malaysian music scene.

“Not many people might know my songs,” she said, “so the concert will include a song from a popular singer,” she said prior to the two-hour concert. There was aslo a duet with Abang Anuar and BLC.

Although she is still not that popular in the music scene, Anuar Zain knew who she was. “The praise from Anuar was an inspiration to me and motivated me to do better,” she said.

Apart from promoting the concert, Yuka also launched her debut album. “The album was actually recorded several years ago, but I hadn't had the opportunity to finish it until now, which is when it is launched.” The album comprises different types of songs, ranging from slow songs to rancid songs. This mix of music styles is possible thanks to that her label allows her great artistic liberty.

She said that it might take her longer to release songs under this label, it does it make it easier for her to make artistic decisions and do whatever she thinks is best for her career.

She said that she finds the music industry to be more robust now. “Technology helped change the scene in so many ways especially in terms of how we consume entertainment,” she told New Straits Times, “Hard copies have changed to soft copies, offline artistry has translated online and these changes are inescapable”.

She added, “I see it as a positive — for as long as there are policies that protect artistes' rights. Piracy is still an issue, and music is more vulnerable to illegal file sharing and downloading. That said, I do see some brightness in the digital music business, as it has been part of our lifestyle for years now. Artistes and consumers ease into it without major ramifications.”

Despite the dangers that downloading of music and illegal file sharing presents to the artist, there are also positive aspects to technology and she has managed to make the most of it. “We managed to use the innovations that come with technological growth in an empowering manner. For instance, musicians are able to share music more widely and consumers in return have better entertainment choices,” she said.

When asked if she has experienced any downfalls with the rise of technology in music, she said, “One of my unreleased song got leaked and I didn't even realised it until I saw the song in a music list during a karaoke session. That got me puzzled and disappointed. I could not even fathom how it ended up at an entertainment outlet. That is why I stress the importance of a more controlled and structured regulation to protect our work”.

Despite its difficulties and the challenges that technology brings, she said that it didn't stop her from embracing digitalisation. “I had a lot of trust issues as a result of it but there are continuous strategies and sustained solutions to curb piracy presented by the government to take measures that safeguard the interest of people involved in the music industry.”

She added: “The industry's digital landscape here for musicians to thrive is better than in Indonesia. Royalty is better guarded due to stronger governing bodies. The industry here is better controlled.”

Traditional Music of Indonesia

Traditional Music of Indonesia

Located off the coast of mainland Southeast Asian in the Indian and Pacific oceans, Indonesia is home to hundreds of ethnic groups, with their own cultural and artistic history. This cultural diversity has led to multiple expressions of local musical creativity. With hundreds of forms of local music and foreign musical influences, the music scene of Indonesia is a colourful and vibrant collage of beats rhythms.

Music varies from one island to the other other, and researchers have long documented the musics of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Flores and other islands. While music has been developed in every region, they have all been passed through generations and they still exist in the community. Although Native Indonesian tribes have incorporated chants and songs accompanied with music instruments in their rituals, the music has been grown and developed in each region, and it has been slightly modified from generation to generation. Today Indonesian music is popular across the islands and even in neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Although traditional music in each region has its own uniqueness compared to other regions, songs in Indonesia usually comprise strong beat and harmony type musics that have show a strong influence of Indian and Malay classical musical. This trend is mostly visible in the traditional popular music genre of Dangdut.

Indonesian music is also characterised by simple lyrics and melodies, and these lyrics are usually the in the local language, and it is usually played with traditional music instruments that are particularly to an area. As they have traditionally played music to accompany the tribes' rituals, songs usually demonstrate an element of community togetherness.

The musical identity of Indonesia dates back to the Bronze Age. Indonesian tribes use percussion instruments, particularly gendang (drums) and gongs. Other outstanding musical instruments are sasando string instrument of Rote island, angklung of Sundanese people and the intricate and refined gamelan orchestra of Java and Bali. The latter is the most popular form of Indonesian music, which consists of tuned percussion instruments, including metallophones, drums, gongs and spike fiddles along with bamboo flutes.

Remarkable genres of Indonesian music

Although Indonesian music is the result of combining different forms of culture and music styles, original music still survives today and it comprises a range of music genres, most prominently keroncong music, dangdut music and modern Qasidah. Keroncong is a popular folk style which stems from the Portuguese colonial era. After the European conquerors brought their own music instruments, these were combined with Indonesian instruments and the combination resulted in keroncong music.

This genre of music reached its prime in the 1930s when it was used in Indonesia's film industry. It then became a vehicle for people to express their struggle to achieve independence. There is a famous kerongcong song from these times called Bengawan Solo; this famous song tells the story of the river Bengawan Solo, the longest river in Java. This song describes the legendary river in a nostalgic way, and its beautiful lyrics and unique melody made it one of the most popular songs in this genre. It's so popular that it has many versions in different languages.

Written by Gesang Martohartono in 1940, the song is strongly associated with the Japanese occupation and the society of the time. At the time, Gensang was a young and untrained musician who startinted playing “Bengawan Solo” on a bamboo flute at local functions and gatherings in his hometown of Surakarta. It didn't take long for the song to become widely popular locally and soon it achieved national acclaim after it was broadcast to a wider audience by radio stations.

But its popularity wasn't only amongst Indonesians; the Japanese soldiers who occupied Indonesia during the Second World War also liked the song and took it to Japan once the war was over. There the lyrics were translated into Japanese and they gained great popularity after singers such as Toshi Matsudar released recorded versions of it which become topped the charts that year. That is how the song started to spread to the the rest of Asia and then it achieved worldwide popularity.

Ever since, Gensang has become not only a nationally renowned figure, but also venerated by foreigner and to such extent that a group of Japanese war veterans arranged for his statute to be erected in a park in Surakarta.

Ever since the 1970, Dangdut stands out as of the most popular traditional musics in Indonesia. Combining local music traditions with Indian and Malaysian musics, Dangdut music started out as a form of dance music.

As a testament to Indonesia's cultural diversity, modern Qasidah is a popular form of music that comes from Arabic pop combined with lyrics in local dialect recited as poetry. This poetry recital is accompanied by charting and percussion.



Gamelan is a style of music that originates from Java and Bali in Indonesia. While quite traditional in style, it has set its roots deep into contemporary Indonesian music as an influence, and is perhaps the most iconic music from the region. It is an atmospheric and abstract soundscape of metallic noises, percussive elements, complex rhythm and traditional instrumentation.

The music is mostly percussive and percussive-melodic. The most common instruments include metallophones which are placed with mallets, and kendhang which are a set of hand-played drums which provide the pulse. While these two instruments tend to set the foundation for each composition, the music is also often decorated with other melodies and counter melodies from xylophones, bamboo flutes, vocalists (referred to as sindhen) and rebab, which is a bowed instrument derived from Arabia. Traditionally, it isn't a notated form of music as it began as an oral tradition, but nowadays there are precise methods to recording the music on paper, mostly invented to preserve various pieces in the court records as music is generally memorised.

The music is often improvised, and when writing new music, the band leader, also known as the sekaha, who helps the community to invent new gamelan, will encourage the performers to add their own element to the music and leave enough space in new compositions to include improvisations. They believe that music should grow and change, and even in some performances of traditional gamelan pieces, new sections and improvisations are added so that the music is constantly changing. The only time this isn't applicable is when they play their oldest and most sacred pieces, which are memorised and rehearsed frequently and passed down through generations, note for note.

Gamelan music has become less popular over the years as more and more people have started listening to pop music, however it is still frequently played at traditional festivals and ceremonies as well as other formal occasions. It is a very central part of the Indonesian culture, and as the iconic sound of Indonesia, we won't see it disappear anytime soon. Bands such as Krakatau and SambaSunda have created a jazz fusion using the ethnic gamelan music and instrumentation blended with contemporary instrumentation such as drumkits, keyboards and guitars to create a modern Indonesian sound. The band Bossanova Java have also fused a more refined style of gamelan from Java with bossa nova music to create a very unique soundscape that still sounds true to it's geographical origins.

Gamelan also influences music from as far away as Japan and beyond. Quite noticeably, the Japanese synth-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra featured a heavy use of gamelan elements and samples on their 1981 album titled Technodelic. Gamelan music has also influenced the soundtrack to several anime films including 1988's Akira, composed by the Japanese music group Geinoh Yamashirogumi. Even the some of the soundtracks used for the iconic Sonic games feature gamelan samples and influences.

More traditionally, gamelan is a cultural music performance, and often is accompanied by traditional Indonesian dancing, puppet performances called wayang, and is also often played at traditional rituals and ceremonies. The music not only accompanies these activities, but is a solid and vital element to the entire performance, so much so that everybody needs a thorough understanding of everything happening, for example, the puppeteers in the wayang must understand the music to be bale to give cues for the music, and the dancers who perform alongside the music can usually play instruments in the ensemble as they study the music extensively to fully immerse themselves in the performance.

Almost all religious rituals involve gamelan music, including ceremonies performed by the Catholic Church in Indonesia. There are pieces that are believed to fend off evil and others that are believed to have magical powers. Certain ceremonies have particular gamelan composed specifically for them, such as the Gamelan Sekaten which is used for Mawlid an-Nabi, also known as Muhammad's birthday.

Gamelan has also found a way out of Indonesia and into other cultures where it has grown and developed into something entirely new. Both Malaysia and the United States have developed their own style of the music which, while keeping true to Indonesian gamelan roots, has become something very unique and different.