Why, How, and Where Further Performance Research on Pencak Silat Makes Sense

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Date(s) - 27/06/2012
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Japanese Studies Centre Auditorium, Building 54 (next to the bus loop), Monash University, Clayton Campus


Monash Asia Seminars – CSEAS Seminar Series

Dr Uwe U. Pätzold
Robert Schumann University of Music, Duesseldorf, Germany

Pencak Silat is a movement art that has an affinity with many indigenous cultures of Southeast Asia. At its core, Pencak Silat is perceived to be an art of self-defense. It forms an important part of many Southeast Asian cultures on regional, national, and international levels. This movement art sometimes is indigenously expressed as a particularly coherent culture, as a “world of Silat” (Dunia Silat). Indonesian West Java (Sunda), and West Sumatra (Minangkabau), are commonly held to be two historic “cradles” of what is known today as Pencak Silat.

Music genres are used for the enrichment of public performances of Pencak Silat. I will show how movement and music interact, i.e. Kendang Pencak from West Java, and hautbois playing (pupuik sarunai) from West Sumatra. Pencak Silat is entrenched in society because of long standing histories that have resulted in interdependency between art and function, i.e. interrelations between West Javanese
Penca(k Silat), and Ketuk tilu, and tari Keurseus dances.

Performance contexts of Pencak Silat in Indonesian cultures include weddings, circumcisions, sportive competitions, and political events. Some of the characteristics in regards to the “world of Silat” at least in Indonesia are interpreted in the sense of Pan-Malay features. This aspect urges a critical observer to portray at least the ‘official’ Pencak Silat in Indonesia today as a highly political medium. Digital media make certain today that the carriers of the “World of Silat” hold a key to omni directional cultural exchanges in their hands. Reinterpreting identities has become an important goal to achieve for many young practitioners worldwide since the late 1990‘s.

Can Pencak Silat serve as an example for the culture transgressing potentials of self defense arts in general?

Uwe U. Pätzold (Ph.D., M.A.) teaches ethnomusicology at Robert Schumann University of Music, Duesseldorf. He further has taught ethnomusicology and new media related matters in ethno-sciences at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn. He has done field research in West and Central Java, West Sumatra, Bali, and the Netherlands. His research interests include the interrelations between sound and movement arts with a primarily motorical function, the cultures and arts related to the movement and self defense art Pencak Silat, representations of ethnic music and movement arts within the new media, and borderline projects between contemporary and ethnic performing arts. For his publications see the BMS / German RILM Online catalogue at www.musikbibliographie.de, search words: uwe p*tzold.