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Made Lebah: Reminiscences from 'jaman setengah Bali'(Half Bali Times)

Warren, C. (2007) Made Lebah: Reminiscences from 'jaman setengah Bali'(Half Bali Times). In: Waterson, R., (ed.) Southeast Asian lives: Personal narratives and historical experience. NUS Press, Singapore.

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This chapter focuses on perceptions of cultural place and social change in twentieth-century Bali through the eyes of one of its many extraordinary, "ordinary" people. Made Lebah was born in the in the Gianyar village of Peliatan in the early years of the century and died just before its end. His reminiscences begin in the time he referred to as "jaman setengah Bali", when the regency of Gianyar was only nominally controlled by the dutch, who had conquered the South Balinese kingdoms in 1906-8. This was the period of his childhood, his time as a servant in the royal court of Peliatan, and the beginnings of his life-long enchantment with Balinese music. He grew up under Dutch colonial rule, when he was given the first opportunity to travel the world as a performer in the Peliatan Gamelan troupe, which he had helped form. Thus began hist first encounters with many of the Western musicians, scholars and students who flocked to Bali after the Peliatan performances at the Paris Colonial Exhibition in 1931 brought this stunning musical style to world attention. Subsequently Lebah worked for Colin McPhee, the Canadian composer who devoted himself to the study and exposition of Balinese music. He had what might appear to be the unusual combination of jobs as music teacher and driver for McPhee. But in fact most performers in Bali of that era combined their artistic activities with more mundane pursuits as farmers or traders. And it remains the case today, that only a small number are able to support themselves as full-time professional performers.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
Publisher: NUS Press
Copyright: 2007 Singapore University Press
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