Performing Faith: Christian Music, Identity and Inculturation in Indonesia, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Performing Faith

Christian Music, Identity and Inculturation in Indonesia, 1st Edition

By Marzanna Poplawska


344 pages | 67 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138587052
pub: 2020-03-02
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This book is a study in music inculturation in Indonesia. It shows how religious expression can be made relevant in an indigenous context and how grassroots Christianity is being realized by means of music. Through discussion of indigenous expressions of Christianity, the book presents multiple ways in which Indonesians reiterate their identity through music by creatively forging Christian and indigenous elements. This study moves beyond the discussion (and charge) of syncretism, showing that the inclusion of local cultural manifestations is an answer to creating a truly indigenous Christian expression.

Marzanna Poplawska, while telling the story of Indonesian Christians and the multiple ways in which they live Christianity through music, emphasizes the creative energy and agency of local people. In their practices she finds optimism for continuing existence of many traditional genres and styles. Indonesian Christians perform their Christian faith through music, dance, and theatre, generating innovative cultural products that enrich the global Christian heritage.

The book is addressed to a broad spectrum of readers: scholars from a variety of disciplines – music, religion, anthropology, especially those interested in interactions between Christianity and indigenous cultures; general music lovers and World Music enthusiasts eager to discover musics outside of European realm; as well as Christian believers, church musicians and choir directors curious to learn about Christian music beyond Euro-American context. Students of religion, sacred music, (ethno)musicology, theatre, and dance will also benefit from learning about a variety of indigenous arts employed in Christian churches in Indonesia.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations

Technical notes




1. Setting the Scene: Christianity and European Influence in Indonesia

PART I: Java

2. Institutions and Inculturation: Pusat Musik Liturgi in Yogyakarta

3. Gamelan Music in the Church

4. Christian Dramatic Forms

PART II: Flores

5. The Cultural Context of Christianity

6. Local Enactments: Pusat Musik Liturgi and Composition Workshops

7. The Creative Process: Composing Inculturational Music


Appendix A: Key Individuals

Appendix B: Liturgy and music notation examples

Appendix C: Glossary



About the Author

Marzanna Poplawska holds a Ph.D. degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, USA. She has studied and taught in Poland, UK, Indonesia, Ireland, and the United States. Her primary interests encompass the musical traditions of Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Central-Eastern Europe as well as acculturation/inculturation, music and religion, diaspora, and Intangible Cultural Heritage. She is a performer of central-Javanese music and dance.

About the Series

SOAS Studies in Music Series

SOAS Musicology Series is today one of the world’s leading series in the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our core mission is to produce high-quality, ethnographically rich studies of music-making in the world’s diverse musical cultures. We publish monographs and edited volumes that explore musical repertories and performance practice, critical issues in ethnomusicology, sound studies, historical and analytical approaches to music across the globe. We recognize the value of applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and our authors draw on current approaches in musicology and anthropology, psychology, media and gender studies. We welcome monographs that investigate global contemporary, classical and popular musics, the effects of digital mediation and transnational flows.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General