Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



The rebab is one of the only traditional stringed instruments found on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Though it is ever-present in musical ensembles in Bali, the rebab has been consistently overlooked in scholarship of Balinese music by Western ethnomusicologists. Through participant observation, personal interviews, and library research, I explore the idea that the rebab deserves a place in the scholarship of Balinese music. In addition, I argue that the Balinese rebab not only persists in Balinese music culture as a vital object, but that it is also an active participant in shaping Balinese music culture. In this paper, I address differences between Balinese and Javanese rebab playing and construction, I look into the sonic importance of the rebab, I explore why it has been labeled a “dying instrument” and I discuss the symbolic and social nature of the rebab as a factor of Balinese individual musicianship, religion, and culture. With this research, I have found that the instrument is vital in many ways to traditional and modern music making in Bali despite lack of academic study.

Level of Honors

magna cum laude


Conservatory of Music


Sonja Downing

MargetLecture.mp4 (109018 kB)
Balinese Rebab Lecture, Mikaela Marget