8. The Space of the Gong Culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam: Old and New Directions in Ede Traditional Music

Cultural Mapping and Musical Diversity - Britta Sweers

Vincenzo della Ratta [+-]
Centre Asie du Sud Est
Vincenzo della Ratta, Ph.D., has a particular interest in the gong music of the Austronesian peoples of Southeast Asia. This led him to conduct fieldwork in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and in East Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), where he concentrated on the music and culture of the Jarai, Ede, and Dayak Benuaq ethnic groups. Vincenzo della Ratta studied and played gamelan music for over six years, in Indonesia and Italy. He has published several articles on his research, and released two albums of his field recordings.


This chapter illustrates how the perception of cultural landscapes has likewise been shaped by the UNESCO Intanglible Cultural Heritage debate. The Central Highlands of Vietnam are an area inhabited by about twenty different ethnic groups belonging to two different linguistic families, but connected by their similar traditions and music. Factors such as colonization by the French, three Indochina Wars, governmental mass resettlement policies, and the ??i m?i (“renovation”) policy adopted by the central government in 1986 have all contributed to drastically affect the traditions of the indigenous ethnic groups of the Central Highlands. Gong music, traditionally conceived as a means through which man can communicate with the supernatural world and therefore played only in ritual contexts, is no exception to this rule. In 2005 UNESCO declared the Space of Gong Culture of the Central Highlands of Vietnam as Intangible Cultural Heritage, with the aim of safeguarding and preserving the endangered gong culture of the area. This chapter aims to clarify the role and function of gong music in a modern context, by analysing a musical performance held for tourists by an ethnic Ede troupe of musicians and dancers.

Notify A Colleague


della Ratta, Vincenzo. 8. The Space of the Gong Culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam: Old and New Directions in Ede Traditional Music. Cultural Mapping and Musical Diversity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Mar 2020. ISBN 9781781797594. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=35831. Date accessed: 21 Nov 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35831. Mar 2020

Dublin Core Metadata