Kebyar came into being around the turn of the century and innovations were brewing between 1910 and 1915 in North Bali’s Buléléng region, the Dutch colonial administration center. Elders in Bungkulan have said that the musical dynamics of Dutch military marching bands influenced the nascient kebyar aesthetic.
(Admittedly, the influence seems to have been limited to the element of explosive energy). The late 19th century, throughout the island, witnessed a creative era of Balinese–language gaguritan sung poetry (pupuh) taking on historical, mystical and romantic themes as well as sociopolitical topics expressed through the classical kakawin poetic style in the Old Javanese literary language of Kawi.
At the turn of the century, a revival of interest in classical texts led to a plethora of seka papaosan literary clubs emphasizing the skills of recitation in Kawi and translation into the Balinese language using the stylized vocal phrasing of palawakya . Palawakya refers to non–metric prose ucapan ‘spoken’ in broad melodic contours, using either Kawi or alus ‘refined’ or ‘high,’ Balinese language. Literary clubs from different villages would compete against one another before ever–increasing audiences at ceremonial religious events and at night markets.