Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: October 2015




The ‘acoustic panorama of the Indonesian city’ (Colombijn 2007:269) is both distinctive and under-theorized. In Yogyakarta's Sosrowijayan, music and the broader ‘soundscape’ (Shafer 1977) were integral to the roadside/alleyway division outlined in the previous chapter. These in turn influenced and were influenced by social relations such as those between street guides and becak drivers. Greater Sosrowijayan is hemmed in by three noisy, busy roads, and Sosrowijayan Street itself, which in 2001 was sleepier but nonetheless accommodated waves of motorised transport ranging from motorcycles to trucks and buses. To enter the alleyways off any street, however, within metres the street sounds gave way to a soundscape of kampung activities. Varying with some consistency over the course of each day, sounds included chatter, faint echoes of children playing, murmurs and scuffing shoes of passers-by, devotional sounds from mosques and churches, soap operas on television, melancholy ballads and talkback on radio, guitars and singing, the clinking of cooking utensils and whoosh of gas cookers, trickles of running water, cooing pigeons, and the ‘tok tok’, ‘puk puk puk’ and other signals of passing traders (Nakagawa 2000:133-4). The neighbourhood aural environment resulted from a combination of thin walls and open windows, in turn deriving from climatic compatibility and economic scarcity, as well as locally enforced noise regulations such as bans on riding motorised vehicles, and on making undue noise after hours, especially after midnight.

This chapter explores the two main spaces and forms of public music making that regularly took place on the roadsides and alleyways in Sosrowijayan: that of mobile buskers (pengamen) and that at hangouts. Self and cultural expression played a role in both kinds of music making, but they differed in terms of social affiliations, musical genres, and also in their relation to monetary exchange. Moving buskers sought cash directly, while those playing music at hangouts did not, although as outlined earlier such locations also served as bases for seeking business.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Musical Worlds of Yogyakarta
  • Online ISBN: 9789814414463
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *