The ancestral Gamolan xylophone and its recent transformation in Indonesia's Lampung Province, Sumatra: 1980s-2000s

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    The bamboo xylophone known as gamolan and its repertoire have been created, shaped and developed over the generations in Bumi Sekala Beghak, the ancestral heartland of the Indigenous people of Lampung, the southernmost province of Sumatra. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the gamolan remained a little-known instrument outside Sekala Beghak, but in the twenty-first century it was transformed when the provincial government decided to promote it as part of the culture and fortunes of the indigenous Ulun Lampung and to create a new, diatonically-tuned variant of the instrument which was formally designated the musical symbol of the province itself. After recounting the instrument’s origin legends and examining its organology, repertoire, and social functions in the villages and palaces as I first encountered them in the 1980s, this article documents the musical and socio-political changes from the late 1990s that led to its organological transformation, decontextualization, and eventual revitalisation as a set of diatonically-tuned instruments that are played in ensembles throughout the province.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)110-126
    Number of pages17
    JournalThe Galpin Society Journal: for the study of musical instruments
    Issue number75
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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