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Voices in Bali: Energies and Perceptions in Vocal Music and Dance Theater (Music/Culture) Paperback – December 15, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“There are marvelous translations of poetry, the musical transcriptions are refined, and the accompanying CD offers excerpts of important music not featured on commercial releases. It is music essential to the island's cultural ecology . . . Read this book to find out what goes into it and why it is worth being attentive to.” —Ethnomusicology


“Fascinating... assumes several voices to mingle highly technical musical analysis, aesthetic considerations, meditations on Balinese traditions and how they are taught... Even a nonmusical reader can become absorbed.”—Village Voice


“...wonderfully fractured, multisided, discontinuous, nonlinear-best viewed, not wholly as science, not merely as scholarship, surely not as a traditional ethnographic outcome, but as a record of an artist's odyssey, a lover's fantasy, a devotee's mystery.”—Anthropological Linguistics


“Herbst gives the flesh where the others offer only bare bones...”—Asian Music

Review

“Voices in Bali is a very remarkable book. In my opinion it is the first book written by a Western scholar who has really succeeded to feel and experience from within the magic exaltation of the Balinese artist during the performance of his art (music and dance and theatre).” (Anak Agung Madé Djelantik, author of Birthmark: Memoirs of a Balinese Prince)

“To follow the learning process in music in the depth that Herbst makes available to us is to make a revealing journey into Balinese categories of thought. Music is as intrinsic to culture as language, itself, but it is usually learned somewhat more formally and the process is therefore easier to discern. It is a privilege to follow the author on this voyage of discernment.” (David P. McAllester)

“This compelling and innovative study... offers a deeply informed-and often deeply moving-portrait... successfully confronts an array of complex epistemological and musical challenges.” (1999 Yearbook for Traditional Music)
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Product Details

  • Series: Music/Culture
  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan (December 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819563196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819563194
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,387,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book was a wonderful surprise. First of all, it contains a CD which is worth the price of admission. The CD has a lot of folk songs and arja (Balinese opera) selections which aren't generally available in CD stores (which tends to just cover gamelan and cak.)
For musicians, it presents detailed technical information on performance and to some degree the process of learning the vocal techiques.
For musicologists, it provides quite a background on how it fits in Balinese society.
I don't know if I can properly comment on how accessible it will be to people who don't play or study music. However a good deal of the information is down to earth and anecdotal, and of course the music on the CD is anything but academic.
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Here is a work of ethnomusicology that focuses as much on the how of learning this music (from vivid descriptions of personal experience) as on the how of understanding (for the outsider) the nature of this music itself. It delivers what it promises. A CD is included and the lyrics to each song that is sung has a phonetic transcription, a clear translation, and useful notes. If you want to enter the world of Balinese vocal music and dance, start here. I hope videos of the dance will someday be made available. Edward Herbst recently discovered in UCLA's uncatalogued archives the only know film of one of the legendary Balinese performers.
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