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Hilarian, L. F. (2003). The gambus (lutes) of the Malay world. In J. S. Buenconsejo, A search in Asia for a new theory of music: A symposium organised by the Philippines, Center for Ethnomusicology as the 7th International Conference of the Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology (APSE) (pp. 455-480). Quezon City, Phiippines: UP Center for Ethomusicology.
This paper will explore the migration of the Hadhrami Arab culture, religious practice and music to the Malay Archipelago (Nusantara). More specifically the paper discusses the transmission of the folk-lute (gambus) from Hadhramaut (Yemen) to the Malay Archipelago (Nusantara) where the instrument has been adapted to local needs and culture. This paper will briefly discuss the existence of two types of lute instruments. The transmission of these instruments and their role and identity as "icons" of Islam in the Malay world (Alam Melayu) is reviewed and debated. The status of music and the emblematic representation of cultural icons are constantly challenged by Islamic purists generating debates regarding Islamic attitudes to music in today's Malay Muslim society. I will examine the role and functions of music, which constantly lies between acceptance and rejection within some Islamic societies. Finally, this paper will briefly explore the question of "cultural space" for traditional performers which is threatened by the h1fluences of modernization, the influx of popular culture and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
This paper was presented at the 7th International Conference of the Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology (APSE), held in University of the Philippines from 17 - 23 Feb 2002
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