EOL 7 CD Review


There can be no doubt that Yampolsky’s twenty-volume series of Indonesian music will stand as a landmark in recordings of the world’s music for many years to come. Yampolsky has set a high standard, both for those who would produce a single recording and for prospective producers of series. It is ironic that, thanks to the recordings of the Smithsonian series, the areas of Indonesia whose music is best known to the world at large are now poor cousins compared to the areas that Yampolsky has documented. One could certainly wish for recordings of Javanese and Balinese music with equally meticulous commentary and tastefully balanced variety.

These three volumes from the middle of the series are as good a place as any to jump into this series. They offer fascinating lessons in the cultural diversity of Indonesia and speak as well to myriad cultural connections that join distant parts of Indonesia and other areas of Southeast Asia.

Similar instruments, musical practices, and song texts bear witness to past musical travels between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. We can also learn much from them about influences from further afield: instruments, musical styles, and subject matter from Europe and the Middle East are evident in each of the three recordings. The European violin and accordion are firmly ensconced alongside the Middle Eastern lutes and frame drums and instruments of indigenous origin. Religious subject matter, both Muslim and Christian, figures prominently in many of the tracks.

In the final analysis, the significance of these disks depends on the quality of the performances and the recordings. If they were not so pleasing and intriguing they would have little impact.

Benjamin Brinner



Foley, Kathy. 1989. "Of Gender and Dance in Southeast Asia: From Goddess to Go-Go Girl," in Proceedings of the 20th Anniversary CORD Conference. New York: Congress on Research in Dance, pp. 57-62.

Malm, William. 1971. Malaysia: music of the ma'yong theatre. An anthology of the world's music, 7. Anthology AST 4006.

Spiller, Henry. 2001. “Erotic Triangles: Sundanese Men's Improvisational Dance in West Java, Indonesia.” PhD dissertation. University of California, Berkeley.

Sweeney, Amin. 1974. “Professional Malay Story-Telling: Some Questions of Style and Presentation.” Studies in Malaysian Oral and Musical Traditions. Michigan Papers on South and Southeast Asia 8. Ann Arbor: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan. Pp. 48-99.

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