Organized Panel Session
Traditionally, Balinese music has been played and performed by men; however, in the past several decades, women have started to occupy major roles in female gamelan groups and in Balinese music pedagogy. Ideas of femininity are encapsulated in Balinese religion, philosophical concepts, and music theory, lending to a multifaceted lens through which to explore gender in Balinese music studies. Expanding on studies of music and gender in Bali, this paper deals specifically with ideas of femininity and the female role in the music for the Balinese shadow puppet theater, gender wayang. These ideas are first explored through gendered philosophies in Balinese gamelan music as drawn from oral accounts, esoteric written sources like the Prakempa lontar (palm leaf manuscript), and other academic works. The second part of this paper, comprising the main ethnographic content of this work, consists of interviews with present-day female teachers and professors of gender wayang, most notably, Ni Putu Hartini and Ni Ketut Suryatini. As renowned female teachers of gender wayang, their perspectives offer insight into the history of female participation in Balinese music and outline the new opportunities and performance spaces that are arising in the gender wayang performance complex as more and more children, both male and female are participating. The third and final segment of this paper considers sustainability and foreign influence on gender dynamics in gender wayang and seeks to contribute to ideas about gendered subjectivities by considering the author’s own stance as an American female ethnomusicologist and student of gender wayang.