From the first centuries CE, the more important relations between Southeast Asia and India can be found in the shastras (religion, scripts, literature, politics, law) and architecture (Coedès 1968: 254-56), while that with China, Korea and Japan, in music structures, musical instruments and ensembles (Picken 1981-90; Maceda 1995d). In Southeast Asia, after an extended period of adapting Hindu and Buddhist rites and ceremonies, courts and temples developed a parallel repertoire of music for court ceremonies, separate from the repertoire used for religious rites in the temples. In Java and Bali, the extensive use of musical forms, musical instruments and vocal music attested to in Old Javanese and Old Balinese inscriptions, literatures, and in temple reliefs (Kunst 1968), as can also be found in Burma, Thailand, Laos, Kampuchea, and Vietnam, are early records of music in the area. Religious transformation in the two islands of Java and Bali allowed for the reworking and recasting of old rites into new forms suitable for Hindu or Buddhist ceremonies both in the temples and in the courts. The manifold reworking of rites and ceremonies, and how the musical arts were integrated into these systems has yet to be described and analysed – what indigenous structures were perceived to be malleable for new Hindu and Buddhist liturgical forms, and how these were all incorporated into the ritual repertoire of both the courts and the temples and other sacred sanctuaries, and what musical, theatrical or dance forms were integrated into these systems.
If the courts and the temples exuded an aura of exclusivity and sacrality, the surrounding villages which constituted an even larger system nurtured their own musical traditions, rites and festivities that were of two orientations – the persistence of indigenous repertoire, and the slow intrusion of Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian modes of ritual and ceremonial procedures. In these contexts, the musics of Southeast Asia developed into at least three distinct areas: first, the village which until today remains the repository of ancient religious and musical practices; second, the courts; and third, the temples, which together established a new form of centralised organisation and power, and consequently assumed the position as centres of musical activity, where musicians and dancers, players and puppeteers were employed in the service of the ruler, the aristocracy and the religious hierarchy.