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Travel Guide Filter Applied. Topic see all. Sometimes we describe the whatness of the musical object its sound ; and sometimes we describe its who- ness, whereness, whenness, howness, or whyness its context. Rarely do we do both.
By attending to musical affect and how musicians talk about it, we are led to both musical object and musical activity at the same time. This is because affect is at the heart of the aesthetic experience, and yet it cannot be understood outside of a larger context.
This context may be taken for granted when one is a cultural insider, but it becomes much less transparent in a cross-cultural set- ting. The situation is in fact a bit more complicated than that. What makes music meaningful for them is rasa. Yet rasa is much more than that. In chapter 2 I explore the meaning of this all- important word, basing my analysis largely on oral citations from musicians I have spoken to.
To understand this panoply more fully, we must in turn ask how the various musical affects are related to each other—in other words, how the rasa lexicon is structured. An important point that emerges as rasas are mapped into shifting constellations of relatedness, is just how paramount con- notative meaning is. Chapters 2 and 3, then, are mainly semantic in nature.
It is in chapter 4 that I try to make good on my promise to weave together musical affect and musical context, or aesthetics and sociology. Chapter 6 consists mostly of lengthy excerpts from conversations with two noted musical experts. Following their lead, it takes a philosophical turn. That is, I seek to identify, other factors being equal, what effect various musical proce- dures have on any particular rasa as it is perceived by an experienced listener.
Some of my conclusions I will save for the end. But, by way of. If I have time, I also play a few examples of music more obviously familiar to those present. I ask students to write down adjectives that describe the respective moods of the various selections. Despite a certain loose- ness in the way I have conducted these experiments, several things have become clear. First, affect is of utmost importance in getting students to understand music; furthermore, it is interesting to them and something they feel comfort- able talking about.
Second, there is a difference in their reactions to familiar and unfamiliar music: there is almost always more consensus about the familiar pieces than about the unfamiliar ones. Third, they are sometimes spectacularly wrong about the intended affects of the Javanese pieces. Fourth, they are some- times spectacularly right about these same pieces.
Rasa Affect and Intuition in Javanese Musical Aest... ---- (Intro)
First of all, musical meaning is learned, just as linguistic meaning is. But this is to misunderstand the nature of associations. No one would argue that language has no referential mean- ing simply because one needs to know a language to understand an utterance in it. For both language and music, then, mean- ing accrues through use—which is precisely why I try to avoid separating musi- cal object and musical context.
Again, this points up the interconnectedness of musical context and perception of musical affect. My third conclusion is that some aspects of affective meaning can cross cul- tural boundaries. This is not logically inconsistent with musical affect being. In either case, the important thing is that musical affect sometimes is, if not universal, at least cross-culturally accessible.
A preliminary comment about who my teachers were is in order here. This is, in fact, something I would like to have done, and the reasons I did not are instructive.
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First of all, I found activi- ties and the demarcation of space to be considerably more segregated by gender in Javanese society than in the middle-class French and American milieux I was brought up in. This meant not only that I turned to Javanese males for advice on whom to ask about musical aesthetics, but also that it was more natural for me to spend time with male than with female musicians. Second, Javanese tra- ditional music—and more especially, discourse about music—is very much dominated by males.
To the general public, female singers are the best-known and most highly visible musicians. When women study singing formally, it is usually with a male teacher. And, because women are not thought of as sources of musical knowledge, they are rarely called upon to teach or to theo- rize. They may therefore be less adept than men at verbalizing the musical techniques that they are so skilled at. Whatever the reasons, my gender bias is something I am aware of, and something I lament. Interestingly enough, it would seem that the female perspectives on rasa that she presents chapters 5 and 6 , are quite similar, in fact, to ways of talking about rasa I had encountered among male musicians.
Other related research on women performers in central Java has been conducted by Nancy Cooper and Sarah Weiss and Some of them I may have only spoken with two or three times; but they were experts and I ignorant, and they taught me much. But a great many of their comments were unsolicited by me. And, when occasionally two musicians were present during one of the taping sessions, and the conversation would switch from Indonesian to Javanese a sign that I was not being addressed , there was not a sudden shift in emphasis.
So I do think that in the end, by listening very carefully to what was being said, I was able to get some idea of what was important to my teachers. For practical and statistical reasons, I recognize that my primary but, I hope, not exclusive readership will be members of the musical and academic communities of the Western world, for want of a better word, most of whom will never have been to Java, and some of whom, sadly, will never have heard a live gamelan ensemble, let alone a highly accomplished one in its original setting.
As any author must, I had to consider the needs of my readership, so that one of my roles in all of this was to sift through, organize, and make meaningful the texts that originated as exchanges between Javanese musicians and myself, and that have been inscribed on paper, on audio tape, and in my memory.
Becker To be sure, the notion of cultural translation has been criticized as perpetuat- ing colonialist attitudes Crapanzano , Asad But this is more a prob- lem with the way it has been carried out within a colonialist or neocolonialist. Clearly, it would not do simply to repeat verbatim what my teachers told me or to address myself primarily to Javanese musicians.
This is, after all, about how Javanese musicians talk about music. I expect my reader- ship to include people with only a passing familiarity with gamelan music, and no knowledge of the Javanese and Indonesian languages, but who want to know more about what this music means.
For these people, certain passages may seem needlessly detailed and eminently skippable.
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