Monthly Archives: March 2017

Dangdut Music

Dangdut is a genre of Indonesian folk and traditional popular music that is partly derived from Hindustani, Malay, and Arabic music. Dangdut is a very popular genre in Indonesia because of its melodious instrumentation and vocals. Indonesians dance in somewhat similar to the ghoomar while listening to dangdut music, but in a much slower version. Dangdut features a tabla and gendang beat. Dangdut really has strong Indian music influence from the basis of harmony, instrument, beat, and rhythm. One of the most populous Dangdut musicians and singers such as Rhoma Irama, known as the King of Dangdut; Mansyur S.; Meggy Z; and Ellya Khadam include strong Indian-music influence in the basis of harmony, theme, and beat to their songs and also by other popular dangdut singers also. Dangdut is very popular throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and other Malay-speaking lands. A dangdut band typically consists of a lead singer, male or female, backed by four to eight musicians. Instruments usually include a tabla, gendang, flute, mandolin, guitars, sitar, drum machines, and synthesizers. The term has been expanded from the desert-style music to embrace other musical styles. Modern dangdut incorporates influences from Middle Eastern pop music, Western rock, house music, hip hop music, contemporary R&B, and reggae. The popularity of Dangdut peaked in the 1990s. By 2012, it was mostly popular in the western parts of Indonesia and not in the eastern parts, apart from Maluku.

The term dangdut is a Javanese language onomatopoeia for the sound of the tabla (also known as gendang) drum, which is written dang and ndut. It was reportedly coined by music magazine Aktuil, although Rhoma Irama stated that it was coined as a term of derision by the rich to the music of the poor. Despite its derogatory intent, it was seized upon by those playing it, and the term appears in Rhoma’s 1973 dangdut classic Terajana:

Sulingnya suling bambu – The flute, a bamboo flute
Gendangnya kulit lembu – The drum, from cow hide
Dangdut suara gendang rasa ingin berdendang – Dangdut’s drum sound makes you want to sing

Dangdut as a term distinguished the music of Javanese from the Orkes Melayu of North Sumatran Malays.

Besides orkes Melayu, the primary musical influence on dangdut was Indian Bollywood music. The song “Terajana” pays homage to the 1959 Bollywood hit “Tera Jana Ke,” and though dangdut is primarily written in the Indonesian language, respect was paid to the Indian influence. The next verse of “Terajana” is as follows:

Terajana… Terajana – Terajana, Terajana
Ini lagunya… lagu India – This is the song, song of India

Orkes Melayu singer Ellya Khadam switched to dangdut in the 1970s, and, by 1972, she was the number-one artist in Indonesia. Her success, with that of Rhoma Irama, meant that by 1975, 75 percent of all recorded music in Indonesia was of the dangdut genre, with pop bands such as Koes Plus adopting the style.

Most major cities, especially on Java, have one or more venues that have a dangdut show several times a week. The concerts of major dangdut stars are also broadcast on television. Beginning in 2003, certain dangdut musicians became the focus of a national controversy in Indonesia regarding performances by singer Inul Daratista which religious conservatives described as pornography. Protests led by dangdut megastar and devout Muslim Rhoma Irama, called for Daratista to be banned from television, and legislation was passed in 2008 by the People’s Consultative Assembly that introduced a broad range of activities described as pornography.

The flamboyant performances at some dangdut shows also attracted collateral attention in May 2012 when a row broke out in Indonesia over a planned performance by international star Lady Gaga in Jakarta due to be held in early June 2012. In the face of opposition from conservative Muslim groups in Indonesia, the planned show was cancelled. This cancellation led numerous commentators to note that opposition to Lady Gaga’s performances was surprising given the nature of some dangdut shows. Dangdut remains an integral part of Indonesian life and pop culture despite conservative Muslim concerns over the supposed vulgarity of some performances. Because the popularity of the genre, some movies and TV show have dangdut-centered themes, such as Rhoma Irama’s movies and Rudy Soedjarwo’s Mendadak Dangdut.

Jazz Music

Jazz is a music genre that originated in African American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African American and European American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Although the foundation of jazz is deeply rooted within the black experience of the United States, different cultures have contributed their own experience and styles to the art form as well. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as “one of America’s original art forms”.

As jazz spread around the world, it drew on different national, regional, and local musical cultures, which gave rise to many distinctive styles. New Orleans jazz began in the early 1910s, combining earlier brass-band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation. In the 1930s, heavily arranged dance-oriented swing big bands, Kansas City jazz, a hard-swinging, bluesy, improvisational style and Gypsy jazz (a style that emphasized musette waltzes) were the prominent styles. Bebop emerged in the 1940s, shifting jazz from danceable popular music toward a more challenging “musician’s music” which was played at faster tempos and used more chord-based improvisation. Cool jazz developed in the end of the 1940s, introducing calmer, smoother sounds and long, linear melodic lines.

The 1950s saw the emergence of free jazz, which explored playing without regular meter, beat and formal structures, and in the mid-1950s, hard bop emerged, which introduced influences from rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing. Modal jazz developed in the late 1950s, using the mode, or musical scale, as the basis of musical structure and improvisation. Jazz-rock fusion appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s, combining jazz improvisation with rock music’s rhythms, electric instruments, and highly amplified stage sound. In the early 1980s, a commercial form of jazz fusion called smooth jazz became successful, garnering significant radio airplay. Other styles and genres abound in the 2000s, such as Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz.

Jazz has proved to be very difficult to define, since it encompasses such a wide range of music spanning a period of over 100 years, from ragtime to the 2010-era rock-infused fusion. Attempts have been made to define jazz from the perspective of other musical traditions, such as European music history or African music. But critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt argues that its terms of reference and its definition should be broader, defining jazz as a “form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of the Negro with European music” and arguing that it differs from European music in that jazz has a “special relationship to time defined as ‘swing'”, involves “a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role” and contains a “sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician”. In the opinion of Robert Christgau, “most of us would say that inventing meaning while letting loose is the essence and promise of jazz.”

Although jazz is considered highly difficult to define, at least in part because it contains so many varied subgenres, improvisation is consistently regarded as being one of its key elements. The centrality of improvisation in jazz is attributed to influential earlier forms of music: the early blues, a form of folk music which arose in part from the work songs and field hollers of the African-American slaves on plantations. These were commonly structured around a repetitive call-and-response pattern, but early blues was also highly improvisational. European classical music performance is evaluated by its fidelity to the musical score, with much less discretion over interpretation, ornamentation, and accompaniment: the classical performer’s primary goal is to play a composition as it was written. In contrast, jazz is often characterized as the product of group creativity, interaction, and collaboration, which places varying degrees of value on the contributions of the composer (if there is one) and performers. In jazz, the skilled performer will interpret a tune in very individual ways, never playing the same composition the same way twice; depending on the performer’s mood and personal experience, interactions with other musicians, or even members of the audience, a jazz musician may alter melodies, harmonies or time signature at will.

Rock Music

Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the African-American genres of blues and rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass and drums and one or more singers. Typically, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

By the late 1960s “classic rock” period, a number of distinct rock music subgenres had emerged, including hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, raga rock, and jazz-rock, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which was influenced by the countercultural psychedelic and hippie scene. New genres that emerged included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements; glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style; and the diverse and enduring subgenre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume, power, and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock reacted by producing stripped-down, energetic social and political critiques. Punk was an influence in the 1980s on new wave, post-punk and eventually alternative rock. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. Further fusion subgenres have since emerged, including pop punk, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock’s history, including the garage rock/post-punk and synth-pop revivals at the beginning of the 2000s (decade).

Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major subcultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the goth and emo subcultures. Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.

Rock music is traditionally built on a foundation of simple unsyncopated rhythms in a 4/4 meter, with a repetitive snare drum back beaton beats two and four. Melodies are often derived from older musical modes, including the Dorian and Mixolydian, as well as majorand minor modes. Harmonies range from the common triad to parallel fourths and fifths and dissonant harmonic progressions. Rock songs, since the late 1950s and particularly from the mid-1960s onwards, often used the verse-chorus structure derived from blues and folk music, but there has been considerable variation from this model. Critics have stressed the eclecticism and stylistic diversity of rock. Because of its complex history and tendency to borrow from other musical and cultural forms, it has been argued that “it is impossible to bind rock music to a rigidly delineated musical definition.”

Pop Music

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms “popular music” and “pop music” are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many styles. “Pop” and “rock” were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other. Although pop music is seen as just the singles charts, it is not the sum of all chart music. Pop music is eclectic, and often borrows elements from other styles such as urban, dance, rock, Latin, and country; nonetheless, there are core elements that define pop music. Identifying factors include generally short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), as well as the common use of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks.

Pop music has been dominated by the American and (from the mid-1960s) British music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture, but most regions and countries have their own form of pop music, sometimes producing local versions of wider trends, and lending them local characteristics. Some of these trends (for example Europop) have had a significant impact of the development of the genre.

According to Grove Music Online, “Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures”. Some non-Western countries, such as Japan, have developed a thriving pop music industry, most of which is devoted to Western-style pop. has for several years produced a greater quantity of music of everywhere except the USA. The spread of Western-style pop music has been interpreted variously as representing processes of Americanization, homogenization, modernization, creative appropriation, cultural imperialism, or a more general process of globalization. In Korea, pop music’s influence has led to the birth of boy bands and girl groups which have gained overseas renown through both their music and aesthetics. Korean co-ed groups (mixed gender groups) have not been as successful.

Characteristics of pop music include an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology, and an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal “artistic” qualities. Music scholar Timothy Warner said it typically has an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, rather than live performance; a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments; and aims to encourage dancing or uses dance-oriented rhythms.

The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half and three and a half minutes in length, generally marked by a consistent and noticeable rhythmic element, a mainstream style and a simple traditional structure. Common variants include the verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically, rhythmically and harmonically with the verse. The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment. The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple themes – often love and romantic relationships – although there are notable exceptions.