Dangdut Stories: A Social and Musical History of Indonesia's Most Popular Music

ISBN : 9780195395679

Andrew N. Weintraub
272 Pages
158 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2010
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A keen critic of culture in modern Indonesia, Andrew N. Weintraub shows how a genre of Indonesian music called dangdut evolved from a debased form of urban popular music to a prominent role in Indonesian cultural politics and the commercial music industry. Dangdut-named onomatopoetically for the music's characteristic drum sounds "dang" and "dut"-is Indonesia's most popular music, heard in streets and homes, public parks and narrow alleyways, stores and restaurants, and all forms of public transportation. Despite dangdut's tremendous popularity in Indonesia and other parts of Asia, it has seldom received the serious critical attention it deserves. Dangdut Stories is a social and musical history of dangdut within a range of broader narratives about class, gender, ethnicity, and nation in post-independence Indonesia (1945-present). Quoted material from interviews, detailed analysis of music and song texts, and ethnography of performance illuminate the stylistic nature of the music and its centrality in public debates about Islam, social class relations, and the role of women in postcolonial Indonesia. Dangdut Stories is the first musicological study to examine the stylistic development of dangdut music itself, using vocal style, melody, rhythm, form, and song texts to articulate symbolic struggles over meaning. Throughout the book the voices and experiences of musicians take center stage in shaping the book's narrative. Dangdut was first developed during the early 1970s, and an historical treatment of the genre's musical style, performance practice, and social meanings is long overdue.


1. Introduction
2. Mythologizing Melayu: Discourse, Practice, and the Stakes of Authenticity
3. A Doll from India: Mr. Mahmud, and the Elvis of Indonesia
4. Music and Rakyat: Constructing "the people" in Dangdut
5. "Suffering" and "Surrender": Dangdut and the Spectacle of Excess
6. Dangdut Nation: "We bring the Happiness of Dangdut"
7. "Dance Drills, Faith Spills": Islam, Body Politics, and Popular Music
8. "Dangdut Daerah": Going Local in Post-Suharto and Indonesia
9. Conclusion: Why Dangdut?

About the author: 

Andrew N. Weintraub is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in ethnomusicology and popular music, and directs the University of Pittsburgh gamelan program. He is the author of Power Plays: Awayng Golek Puppet Theater of West Java (Ohio University Press, 2004) and the coeditor of Music and Cultural Rights (University of Illinois Press, 2009). Weintraub is the founder and lead singer of the Dangdut Cowboys, a Pittsburgh-based dangdut group whose Youtube videos have been viewed more than 100,000 times since December 2007.

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