First Advisor

James R. Nattinger

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




Music and language, Musical analysis, Ethnomusicology, Gamelan music -- History and criticism



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 105 pages)


What is the relationship of music and language? Analogies and comparisons of music and language are plentiful in various types of literature. For researchers in the cognitive sciences, the importance of organization, patterning, and structuring of sounds is a common theme in analyzing both language and music. With the success of generative grammars for languages, a number of researchers have used similar kinds of grammars to describe or model particular aspects of music. In addition, researchers are interested in possible universals in musical grammars. However, while grammars of non-Western musics have been written, most of the work has been based on Western tonal systems.

The purpose of this research is to analyze, in an information processing, linguistic framework, a non-Western musical system for which there is currently no formal grammar in the literature, and to describe an aspect of it in the form of a grammar. Kotekan, the system of interlocking parts in Balinese game/an music, is examined in this study.

This study is based on library research, scores, tapes, and communication with experts in Balinese music. A number of previously written grammars for musical systems are examined, as well as literature concerning various types of formal grammars. Balinese kotekan data is collected, in the form of literature, scores, and tapes. Portions of the data are described in the form of a grammar. The rules are then tested on new data, that is, portions of other Balinese pieces.

The natures of and the relationship between music and language can be examined more closely through the use of an information processing, linguistic framework. Grammars are a precise and formal way of describing structure and regularities in linguistic and musical systems, and of describing aspects of competence. Linguistic and musical grammars share some features and differ in others.

The grammar for Balinese kotekan presented in this study exhibits features that are similar to other musical grammars. The system can be described as a hierarchy of constraints from global tendencies to specific rules for various types of kotekan. In addition, there are deep and surface structures, variation related to structure, ranked or preference rules, spatio-motor considerations, and the need for context-sensitive rules. The structure of po/os and sangsih (the interlocking parts of kotekan) as individual lines is described by context-free phrase structure rules. The relationship between pol os and sangsih is described by transformations. The grammar presented is a starting point for a complete grammar of Balinese kotekan.


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