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Open Access Ganyang! Indonesian Popular Songs from the Confrontation Era, 1963–1966

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Ganyang! Indonesian Popular Songs from the Confrontation Era, 1963–1966

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Many political policies of Soekarno-era Indonesia were celebrated in popular song. By far the most referenced policy was Indonesia’s Confrontation with Malaysia. This article examines the contents of many of those songs and discusses the reasons for their creation and popularity. At the time, the creation of an ‘Indonesian identity’ based on cultural practices was a matter considered of the utmost importance by Soekarno and his left-wing supporters. This led to frequent public statements against the perils of Western ‘cultural imperialism’, especially through rock and roll. It is argued, however, that the Left by no means had a monopoly on the propagation of national pride. The Left supported Confrontation, but so did the majority of the Indonesian public; many also liked Western-influenced music and a number of Confrontation songs are not so dissimilar to the popular Western music of the day. Through an examination of some of these songs, referencing popular culture theorists and Indonesian popular culture specialists (both in the fields of music and other areas), it is shown how popular music reflected what was happening in the political arena, and also how songwriters and performers endeavoured to use music to articulate their own social meaning.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law Business and Arts, Charles Darwin University, Darwin steven.farram@cdu.edu.au

10.1163/22134379-17001002
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Many political policies of Soekarno-era Indonesia were celebrated in popular song. By far the most referenced policy was Indonesia’s Confrontation with Malaysia. This article examines the contents of many of those songs and discusses the reasons for their creation and popularity. At the time, the creation of an ‘Indonesian identity’ based on cultural practices was a matter considered of the utmost importance by Soekarno and his left-wing supporters. This led to frequent public statements against the perils of Western ‘cultural imperialism’, especially through rock and roll. It is argued, however, that the Left by no means had a monopoly on the propagation of national pride. The Left supported Confrontation, but so did the majority of the Indonesian public; many also liked Western-influenced music and a number of Confrontation songs are not so dissimilar to the popular Western music of the day. Through an examination of some of these songs, referencing popular culture theorists and Indonesian popular culture specialists (both in the fields of music and other areas), it is shown how popular music reflected what was happening in the political arena, and also how songwriters and performers endeavoured to use music to articulate their own social meaning.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17001002
2014-01-01
2016-12-06

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