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Spiller, Henry

Spiller, Henry

Individual Fellow

Bamboo Murmurs: Music, History, and Place in Bandung, Indonesia

How do the sonorous qualities of raw materials contribute to musical and social processes, styles, and meanings?
How do urbanites maintain a connection to the land in the face of modernity?
What are some musical ways to craft localized responses to global environmental, social, and economic problems?
What is music-making’s role in responding to modern problems of identity and sustainability?

Project Description

Over the past decade, residents of Bandung, Indonesia, have been reviving bamboo musical instruments in inventive ways. Bamboo Murmurs seeks to understand how this bamboo renaissance helps individuals fashion uniquely Sundanese places, histories, and identities by considering bamboo’s long-standing prominence in the ecology of highland West Java, its versatility as a sound-producing material, the kinds of cooperative musical processes that are compatible with bamboo technologies, and the symbolic associations that have accrued over the generations to bamboo music-making. By linking these realms of human endeavor, Bamboo Murmurs contributes to a dialogue about the interrelationships of cultural, natural, and human resources.

Selected Publications

1) Javaphilia: American Love Affairs with Javanese Music and Dance. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press (2015).
2) “Heavy Metal Bamboo: How archaic bamboo instruments became modern in Bandung, Indonesia,” in Studies on a Global History of Music: A Balzan Musicology Project 2013-2015, ed. Reinhard Strohm, SOAS Musicology Series. Abingdon: Routledge (2018), pp. 241-255.
3) Erotic Triangles: Sundanese Dance and Masculinity in West Java. Chicago: University of Chicago (2010).

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