Controlling time in epic performances: an examination of Mahābhārata performance in the central Himalayas and Indonesia

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Abstract

This paper presents an examination of two different traditions of Mahābhārata performance and analyses the way that performers control the passage of time in each. The paper juxtaposes a description of the sonic worlds of Himalayan Pāñavalilā and Indonesian Wayang and investigates the way musicians use music to enhance the impact of their performances during lengthy performances. The transformation of characters into deities, and the portrayal of epic events are measured through episodic segments whose sounds reflect this segmentation in numerous ways. Boundaries between different spaces of time, and between realms of being, become less distinct because of the performative experience. What both examples demonstrate is that the musical structures that control the passage of time are particularly crucial to the performance of lengthy epics. Transformational experiences, whether into possessed states of being or into a deeper awareness of the story, occur because music/sound helps make it happen in specific ways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-78
Number of pages22
JournalEthnomusicology Forum
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Mahābhārata
  • Epic
  • Time
  • Dance
  • Transformation
  • Pāñdavalīlā
  • Wayang
  • Gamelan
  • Himalayas
  • Possession
  • Dhol
  • Drum
  • Performance

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