Malaysian composers, geopolitical spaces and cultural difference


  • Jonas Ureta Baes University of the Philippines, College of Music



Music and Critical Geopolitics, Malaysian Contemporary Music


The case of Malaysian ‘new music’ composers resonates the political aspects in the production of cultural difference within a modernizing post-colonial nation-state in Southeast Asia. Caught in the discord of a state-induced cultural agenda that highly favored ‘syncretic’ and locally stylized popular idioms, Malaysian new music composers continuously struggle for aesthetic integrity within the backdrop of their country’s consistent growth en route to becoming a world economic power. Believing with Bunnell (2006), however, that a utopic kind of modernity in Malaysia is alluded to in its spatial dimensions, and in the ‘govern(nance) of the landscape’ (2006: 15–31), I therefore argue that the creative responses of those composers, to apparently marginalizing conditions of the present, may just as well involve spatial realms—be they ‘physical’ or otherwise.

Author Biography

  • Jonas Ureta Baes, University of the Philippines, College of Music

    Jonas Baes is a composer, ethnomusicologist and activist. He studied with Jose Maceda at the University of the Philippines and with Mathias Spahlinger at the Staatliche Hochschule fur Musik in Freiburg, Germany. His writings on the Iraya-Mangyan people of Mindoro island and on issues of marginality and cultural politics are published in international refereed journals.


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How to Cite

Baes, J. (2011). Malaysian composers, geopolitical spaces and cultural difference. Perfect Beat, 12(1), 33-44.