I. S. I. Surakarta | Mahambara

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Mahambara

by I. S. I. Surakarta

You've never heard gamelan like this before! Ten composers combine traditional, regional, and experimental approaches to a wide array of instruments. These are some of the best players in the world, from Surakarta in Central Java, Indonesia.
Genre: World: Gamelan
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1. Shalawat Rambu
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7:20 $0.99
2. Kothekan Lesung
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5:17 $0.99
3. Ler-Leran
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7:15 $0.99
4. Lurojinem
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8:13 $0.99
5. Buka Sembarangan
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6:21 $0.99
6. Pak Tung Blang
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6:50 $0.99
7. Damai
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7:43 $0.99
8. Arus Monggang
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6:34 $0.99
9. Minulyo
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10. Miring
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Mahambara: composed and played by faculty at I.S.I. Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
=============
Introduction by Rahayu Supanggah
Shalawat Rambu By Waluyo
Kothekan Lesung by Sri Harta
Ler-Leran by Sugimin
Lurojinem by Supardi
Buka Sembarangan by I Wayan Sadra
Pak Tung Blang by Cucup Cahripin
Damai by Sigit Astono
Arus Monggang by Danis Sugiyanto
Minulya by Darsono
Barang Miring by Bambang Sosodoro
A note from the American Gamelan Institute
Participants, with degrees held by each
==============================
Introduction by Rahayu Supanggah
Mahambara is a musical compilation of recordings of ten compositions by lecturers from the Karawitan Department at ISI Surakarta. Mahambara can be regarded as a reflection of the results of the musical journeys and explorations undertaken by these composers (from a variety of cultural backgrounds and interests), who have travelled far and wide across the ocean of musical life, part of which is fulfilling their duties and obligations as teachers and artists. This compilation covers a broad and varied range of styles and genres of karawitan compositions, including music with a religious (Islamic or Christian) nuance, music with a folk influence, music influenced by Sundanese, Balinese, Javanese, and diatonic music, music based on traditional classical karawitan which is developed in new ways, and experimental works resulting from “wild” musical explorations. It is hoped that this collection of compositions will give an idea of the broad potential of karawitan music as the source of new and creative musical compositions, including its connection to the situations and conditions of society today. Globalization and the creative industry – currently an important issue – provide a wide range of challenges and opportunities for creative artists to do more for their own community and for the rest of the world. ...
“Mahambara” can be translated as traveling or moving upward. It is hoped that this compilation, bearing the title Mahambara, will encourage the life of karawitan, in particular new karawitan, or new Indonesian music, to grow and develop in the general community. I believe that essentially karawitan can only live and thrive if it constantly undergoes a process of progression and actualization in various ways, including the composition of new works and new styles of treatment, in accordance with the needs and demands of the community and the current era.

Shalawat Rambu by Waluyo
This composition is intended as a reflection of a prayer, in the form of an Islamic invocation known as shalawat, sung to a melody based on the sèlèh notes of the balungan from Gendhing Ladrang Rambu. “In truth, God and his angels pray only for the prophet Mohammad. All who have faith, pray only to Him, and utter a perfect greeting of honour and respect.” Sesungguhnya Allah dan malaikat-Nya bershalawat untuk Nabi. Hai orang-orang yang beriman, bershalawatlah kamu kepadanya, dan ucapkanlah salam penghormatan yang sempurna (QS. Al- Ahzab 5). Shalawat is a form of worship that every Muslim is encouraged to perform. A prayer in the form of shalawat is a declaration of love for the prophet Mohammad that it is hoped will guide His followers to behave as the prophet behaved, so that in the hereafter they will receive His eternal blessings. By praying diligently in this way, Muslims are able to free themselves of all their sins and wrong doings.
The musical treatment in this composition aims to recreate gendhing Sekatèn in a new way, particularly Gendhing Rambu, which has a clear function as a medium for preaching the Islamic religion. Based on this idea, the composer decided to write a melody using gérongan technique, which is based on the sèlèh notes of the balungan for Gendhing Ladrang Rambu. The vocal melody combines male and female singers who sing in two parts in irama dadi, interspersed with Santiswara-Larasmadya style, accompanied by the sound of tambourines, kendhang, and kemanak, returning to Shalawat Rambu accompanied by the instruments of the gamelan. The final section of this composition is performed in the style of gendhing Soran that is based on Ladrang Rambu.

Kothekan Lesung by Sri Harta
A lesung is a large mortar used for pounding rice. At harvest time, the sound of the rice being pounded with wooden sticks (kothekan lesung) can be heard all over the village. The rhythmic patterns of the kothekan lesung can be heard from a long distance and create a picture of the beauty of nature and of village life. The activity of pounding the rice in this way produces a variety of sounds and rhythmic patterns, which produce lively and varied interlocking rhythms. The patterns can be played in different rhythms and tempos to create a variety of different characters. The sounds produced are thok, thek, dhong, and dhung, which are played within the framework of a particular tempo to create a musical composition. In addition to the rhythmic patterns of the lesung, this composition also includes a vocal part with a text describing the situation and conditions in the village.

Ler-Leran by Sugimin
The composition Ler-leran is a reinterpretation of the musical treatment of the popular Javanese children’s song, Ilir-ilir. The melody and words of Ilir-ilir are explored and developed to create a number of new instrumental and vocal pieces with various different characters. The development of the melody is based on the sèlèh notes in Ilir-ilir, while the original texts are developed by adding new songs

Lurojinem by Supardi
In Javanese karawitan, a thingthingan is a short phrase that is generally used to determine the pathet and the orientation of notes used in a particular gendhing that is to be performed. In pathet nem, the notes used for thingthingan are 6532, in pathet sångå, the notes are 2165; pathet manyurå uses the notes 3216, or lurojinem [from the Javanese words for those numbers: telu, loro, siji, enem].
The main idea for this composition is the thingthingan 3216. These notes are treated using the musical vocabulary of Javanese karawitan but not in the style of a traditional Javanese composition, or gendhing, and not restricted to this phrase alone. This composition not only uses vocabulary from Javanese karawitan but also from Sundanese and Balinese karawitan, and the influence of these two areas can be heard throughout the composition. It was the intention of the composer to show that the thingthingan has spread to a wider area. In addition, the Sundanese and Balinese styles of karawitan are expressed using the techniques typically used to perform their music.
Lurojinem uses the following instruments from the Javanese sléndro gamelan: gender barung, 4 kettles of the bonang barung and bonang penerus tuned to notes 3,2,1, and 6, slenthem, kempul tuned to notes 6 and 3; gong suwukan 2,1, and 6; gong ageng; kenong notes 3,2,1, and 6; and four Sundanese kendhang ketipung tuned to 3,2,1, and 6.

Buka Sembarangan by I Wayan Sadra
This composition uses a Javanese pélog gamelan. The original idea was to compose a work that creates an impression of Semarang style karawitan, or “Semarangan.” This existing style is a musical reference which has always been in the composer’s head, and which has fascinated and stimulated his imagination, ultimately leading to the desire to imitate this style. The composer believes that the end result will not be same as the music in original Semarang style karawitan, which is why the composition is titled “Buka Sembarangan,” a pun on the word Semarangan. The instruments used in this piece are bonang barung, bonang panerus, peking, saron, demung, slenthem, kenong, gong, kempul, two kendhang, and saxophone.

Pak Tung Blang by Cucup Cahripin
Pak Tung Blang is the name of a Sundanese kendang pattern used in traditional gamelan. This onomatopoeic name describes the three different sounds made on the kendang and ketipung, although in practice, the pattern Pak Tung Blang includes not only these three sounds, but also a number of other sounds as well.
Inspired by the variety of different sounds and motifs of the pattern Pak Tung Blang, the composer attempts to explore new possibilities of sounds that can be produced by the kendang. The result of these explorations of drum patterns is not simply a series of sounds but rather a musical story, which contains a plot, a structure, and other complexities of sound.

Damai by Sigit Astono
This composition includes two songs (“Ana Apa” and “Damai”). Ana Apa was composed based on an observation of the behaviour of a number of animals, in particular frogs during the rainy season, as well as pigeons, doves, goats, and so on. The sounds of these animals seem to represent a kind of ancient music which still exists and can be heard all around us. The beauty of the sound of this “natural music,” in the form of a personal song or symphony played by all the different animals, inspired the composer to arrange these sounds in the form of a musical composition. The song “Damai” was composed after witnessing a strange occurrence while at church, where the congregation did not greet one another but simply looked at each other with suspicion and unfriendly faces. It was as if there was no love or compassion left in the hearts and minds of the congregation, only coldness and hard-heartedness.
The song “Ana Apa” tells about a person’s emotional intelligence which allows him to capture the true essence of life. People often feel that they are God’s most noble creation, the best, greatest, and highest of all creatures. So great is the superego of man, that he often regards all of God’s other creations as inferior to him. Plants, shrubs, trees, and all kinds of animals which creep, crawl, climb, or fly, must all be the slaves or food of man. People often forget and break God’s teachings, trust, and commands that they learned from the holy book when they first came to know “The Transcendent.” They forget that man was the last of God’s creations! They look at animals as moving objects, with flesh, that are waiting to be killed and eaten. There are people – perhaps many – who can respect the existence of animals while at the same time honouring The Creator. Animals should be allowed to live as they were destined to live. Birds should be left to chirp, sing, and whistle as long as they can. A person who manages to reach this level is not only able to ‘talk’ to the animals around him but also has a greater sense of awe and admiration for the greatness of God and all His creations!
The song “Damai” portrays the mood of a person who feels “at odds” while in church. There is a sense of isolation in the crowd, a feeling of emptiness in the message of love and compassion. Everyone should greet one another with love and a happy face, but instead their faces show the burden of their personal problems and they forget that they are worshipping in the church. This composition is a criticism and reminder to those who are starting to lose their faith and goodwill to others.
The instruments used in this work are the group of instruments usually used in a keroncong ensemble, including: cuk, cak, guitar, and bass. In addition, to enhance the melody, a number of gamelan instruments are also used, including: two saron barung pélog, slenthem pélog, three gambang (in all tunings), three kempul pélog (notes 3, 5, and 1), gong suwukan (pitch 1), gong ageng, and gender barung pélog nem.

Arus Monggang by Danis Sugiyanto
Arus Monggang is a musical expression from the composer’s imagination of a meeting between the King of Surakarta and Queen Wilhelmina as they sailed along the Solo River, or Bengawan Solo. This meeting is said to have involved numerous troops of guards and several boats that carried musicians and various musical instruments. The composer imagines this event to be the synergy between two music cultures, East and West. Gamelan Monggang represents the Eastern music, and the Western music by a group of wind instruments, an ensemble often used for state functions. The choice of these two musical ensembles was based on practical reasons, as they are readily available and easy to carry around from place to place. These two music cultures are reinterpreted according to the ideas and wishes of the composer, in duration of 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

Minulya by Darsono
This composition is a revised version of a previous composition entitled “Sulaya” which originally had a length of 4 minutes but in this new version is shortened to last only 7 minutes. This work is based on the complex love story of Rama and Sinta. It consists of a series of several short pieces in laras pélog, which are joined together to form a single composition. These different pieces are Pathetan Mobahe, Si Sinta, Kemuda Genjek, Parikena, and Pathetan Kloning.
Pathetan Mobahe portrays Rama contemplating and remembering the time when he was with Sinta, who never let him down but is now being kept prisoner by Rahwana. The piece Si Sinta describes Rama’s disappointment at losing Sinta, and as he contemplates his fate, he wonders who is to blame for what has happened. Kemuda Genjek portrays Rama’s feelings of uncertainty, sadness, anger, love, and compassion all combined. The piece Parikena describes the character of Sinta, who will always remain loyal to her husband but who in her loneliness was tempted by a man from a different race, for whom she has no affection at all. Pathetan Kloning portrays Rama’s submission, and his belief that he and his beloved wife Dewi Sinta will one day be reunited, even if it involves a long and complicated process. When he and Sinta are reunited, Rama believes that he will find a life that is noble, or “minulya.”

Barang Miring by Bambang Sosodoro
This traditional musical composition was inspired by the music played by the ancient gamelan Sekatèn ensembles, Kyai Guntur Madu and Kyai Guntur Sari, which are performed every year by musicians from the Surakarta Keraton during the Grebeg Maulud (Sekatènan) festival. There are two gendhing that were composed especially for gamelan Sekatèn, namely Rambu and Rangkung. These two gendhing are considered sacred and always played at the beginning of each session when the gamelan Sekatèn ensembles perform. There is also another gendhing that is played by these ensembles, Gendhing Barang Miring, which is always performed after the afternoon call to prayer (adzan ashar).
In this composition, “Barang Miring,” is interpreted in a different way from the gendhing in the traditional Sekatèn repertoire. On this occasion, it is performed on a gamelan ageng ensemble, which includes the “front” instruments (rebab, kendhang, gender, bonang), the “back” instruments (gambang, siter, suling, gender penerus, suling), and a vocal part. This composition is written in traditional Surakarta style, in terms of its tuning, interpretation of pathet, form, irama, tempo, playing techniques, and musical and rhythmic patterns (cengkok and wiledan).
By using a variety of different approaches, such as a reinterpretation of musical treatment and a development of traditional resources, the practices, tendencies, norms, or “rules” found in the traditional performance practice of sekatèn gendhing are presented with a different form and character. The treatment of the instrumentation, the vocal melodies, the dynamics, and tempo all create a fresh and unique character.

A note from the American Gamelan Institute
To have this recording entrusted to the American Gamelan Institute for production and dissemination is a great honor and privilege. I have worked with some of these musicians for decades; others I have yet to meet.
The abiding mission of the American Gamelan Institute, since its founding in 1981, has been to respect and explore all forms of gamelan, both traditional and experimental. In recent years, it has been the Indonesian composers of new music for gamelan who have gained much-deserved recognition and appreciation throughout the network of the international gamelan community. And so the world continues to be enriched and amazed by all that is possible with a gamelan, with players who have mastered it, and a culture committed to growth and change as well as to maintaining a precious heritage. I hope that this is one of many collaborations that will support all ideas.
The notes were provided by the individual composers. We hope that even more extensive annotation, including translations of texts, might accompany future editions.
There is one particularly sad note, however. I Wayan Sadra, one of Indonesia’s most experimental composers, and a close friend to many, passed away before this CD was released. His presence in arts education and innovative performance will not soon be forgotten. Wayan Sadra contributed to Mahambara as both a musician and a composer—as we listen, perhaps we can imagine a gong playing just for him.
jody diamond
director, AGI

Credits
All of the composers and musicians on this recording are lecturers in the Karawitan (traditional music) Department at ISI Surakarta. Many of them have advanced degrees, earned in conservatories and universities in Indonesia as well as abroad. This is a list of everyone involved in the Mahambara project, showing the degrees earned by each individual.(For specific track credits see the Mahambara notes on line at the American Gamelan Institute.)
Adhi Andantino; Agus Prasetya; Ahmad; Ari Purno; Aris Setiawan, S.Sn.; Ary Purno; Bagus TWU.; Bambang Sosodoro, S.Sn. M.Sn.; Bondhet Wrahatnala, S.Sos. M.Sn.; Cucup Cahripin, S.Kar. M.Sn.; Danis Sugiyanto, S.Sn. M.Hum.; Darsono, S.Kar. M.Hum.; Doni; Eko; Gendot Dekanipa; Gunarto; Gunawan; Hadi Boediono, S.Kar. M.Sn.; Heny Savitri; I Ketut Saba, S.Kar. M.Si.; I Nengah Muliana, S.Kar. M.Hum.; I Nyoman Sukerna, S.Kar. M.Hum.; I Wayan Sadra, S.Kar. M.Sn.; Joko Daryanto, S.Sn. M.Sn.; Joko Purwanto, S.Kar. M.A.; Kuwat, S.Kar. M.Hum.; Midang; Mutiara Dewi; Nanik; Nur Handayani; Nurwanta Triwibowo, S.Kar. ; Oki; Oman; Prasadiyanto, S.Kar. M.A.; Puruhito; Putri; Rasita Satriana, S.Kar. M.Sn.; Rossyid; Rusdiyantoro, S. Kar.; Sapto Haryono; Sarno, S.Sen.; Sigit Astono S.Kar. M.Hum.; Sigit Setiawan; Singgih, S.Sn.; Slamet Riyadi, S.Kar.; Sri Harta, S.Kar. M.Sn. ; Sri Joko Raharjo, S.Sn.; Sri Mulyani; Sriyati; Sumardi; Supardi, S.Kar. M.Hum; Suparni; Suraji, S.Kar. M.Hum.; Veronika; Waluyo, S.Kar. M.Sn.; Y. Dony Hermawan.



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