Commentary: Preserving Indonesian Music Through Co-Creative Platforms i

Jazz Gunung is annually held against the natural backdrop of Mount Bromo and its surroundings in East Java. (Photo courtesy of Jazz Gunung)

By : Harriman Samuel Saragih | on 8:25 PM July 18, 2017
Category : Opinion, Commentary

In the past few years, various concerts and festivals have been held in Indonesia, among them the international Java Jazz Festival, Ubud Jazz Festival, Jazz Gunung and Ngayogjazz.

We often see that artists attempt to perform a fusion of contemporary jazz music and indigenous nuances. Often, we may not know what traditional elements have been "infused," but we acknowledge there is some sort of "natural" ambiance. Jazz is the type of music that grants artists the flexibility to explore their respective creative powers.

Jazz musicians such as Tohpati, I Wayan Balawan, Dwiki Dharmawan or Dewa Budjana are the examples of those who have been combining modern and traditional elements in their musical expression. They have produced distinctive experiences for festival-goers, inducing unique, "homegrown," elements into their art. We need to be thankful there are musicians who still care about the local music and promote it.

Indonesian music activists, however, have a lot of homework to do with regard to preserving it in the music industry.

It is needless to say Indonesians should be proud of their nation's abundant cultural heritage. The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) records at least 1,000 ethnic groups in the country. Not all of them have their music explored thoroughly. It seems valid to say our cultural heritage may come to extinction if it is not professionally and properly organized. This is primarily due to an endless invasion of modern Western music on Indonesian consumers.

In order to respond to this challenge, an action from the music industry stakeholders is urgently needed. One of the ways to act is by developing a co-creative platform.

Co-Creative Platforms

The concept of co-creative platforms is not a new one. The idea is rooted in the theory of value co-creation proposed by two C.K. Prahalad and V. Ramaswamy of the University of Michigan. The platform refers to the locus of value creation that takes into account various stakeholders to interact and share their experiences to benefit all actors in an ecosystem.

This idea is particularly relevant in responding to the "threat" of modern music against the traditional one. A co-creative platform may enable all stakeholders —producers, artists, activists, music communities, festival-goers — to discuss their differing intentions and motivations. A co-creative center can be developed as a digital or physical platform, or a combination thereof. It will empower the stakeholders to discuss alternative possibilities in preserving cultural heritage through music, in an organized way.

There are various examples of co-creative platforms that work: Purwakanthi gathers people who engage in the preservation and promotion of Surakarta-Javanese dances; the Pelita Monas Foundation consistently promotes the Saman dance; the Ngariung Sundanese Community preserves and promotes Sundanese heritage. Co-creative platforms are also applicable in the context of music.

Music can be a medium to benefit not only popular artists and record labels, but also local communities and their unique cultural heritages that should be preserved for the future generations. It can as well be a vehicle to promote tourism and advancing regional economies. We need to be fully aware that Indonesia consists of diverse cultural backgrounds. We should not only appreciate these differences, but also embrace them to be respected by the global community.

Harriman Samuel Saragih is a PhD student at the School of Business and Management of the Bandung Institute of Technology. He currently serves as a faculty member at the Business School of Universitas Pelita Harapan. He is also engaged in an independent music group. 

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