Shopping Cart Link

Wesleyan University Press

Sign up for our newsletter

Bookmark and Share
Cart link
Paperback add to cart

For Educators
View cart
Add exam ebook
Cover image Click for larger image

Antiphonal Histories
Resonant Pasts in the Toba Batak Musical Present
Julia Byl


2014 • 336 pp. 31 illus., 10 musical examples 6 x 9"

$29.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7479-4
$23.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7480-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“This is not old-style ‘objective’ ethnography but instead an engaging narrative with a constantly changing focus. Byl applies her considerable writing skills to helping readers understand the intricate cultural threads that give Toba music its meaning.”R. Knight, Choice

A vivid ethnography and in-depth history of musical performance in North Sumatra

Positioned on a major trade route, the Toba Batak people of Sumatra have long witnessed the ebb and flow of cultural influence from India, the Middle East, and the West. Living as ethnic and religious minorities within modern Indonesia, Tobas have recast this history of difference through interpretations meant to strengthen or efface the identities it has shaped. Antiphonal Histories examines Toba musical performance as a legacy of global history, and a vital expression of local experience. This intriguingly constructed ethnography searches the palm liquor stand and the sanctuary to show how Toba performance manifests its many histories through its “local music”—Lutheran brass band hymns, gong-chime music sacred to Shiva, and Jimmie Rodgers yodeling. Combining vivid narrative, wide-ranging historical research, and personal reflections, Antiphonal Histories traces the musical trajectories of the past to show us how the global is manifest in the performative moment.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

Antiphonal Histories, a compelling blend of historiography and ethnography, is the first English-language book dedicated to the music of the Toba, one of the people who form part of the larger Batak group and live in the highland regions of the Indonesian province of North Sumatra and it’s capital, Medan. Written in engaging, lively language, peppered with personal stories and jokes, the book is a pleasure to read. Byl has a flair for storytelling, taking the reader with her on the journey deep into the Sumatran highlands, the busy streets of Medan, and the lives of the people she met.”—Jennifer Fraser, The World of Music (new series)

“The book is highly recommended as an original and vividly written reflexive autobiography that is largely based on personal reflections and stories of the Toba people whom Byl has met over the course of her fieldwork.”—Margaret Kartomi, Inside Indonesia

“Well-written, smart, and honest, Antiphonal Histories is an innovative juxtaposition of historiography, ethnography, musical analysis, and reflexive autobiography. There are also moments of poignant insight, brilliant induction, and hilarity.”—Jeremy Wallach, author of Modern Noise, Fluid Genres: Popular Music in Indonesia, 1997–2001

“Julia Byl’s book is a major contribution on the music of Indonesia’s outer islands. Its use of local myths and oral histories provides a powerful context for understanding contemporary musical practices. The vivid ethnographic accounts make this a beautifully written work that is both informative and moving.”—René Lysloff

JULIA BYL is a postdoctoral research associate and member of the European Research Council project “Musical Transitions to European Colonialism in the Eastern Indian Ocean” at King’s College London.

Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:21:51 -0500