Let’s Make Some Music…
In the midst of Covid, Nusantara Arts Artist-To-Artist initiative brought together a group of Javanese gamelan composers for a historic endeavor to preserve gamelan by encouraging new creativity in the traditional arts.
“Composers Wanted!” presents a series of new Javanese gamelan compositions in classic gendhing song forms. These pieces were developed during Covid times by talented composers and recorded by an expert group of musicians led by Pak Wakidi, at the home of Ki Purbo Asmoro. The funding for this project was provided by gamelan lovers around the world and the Indonesian Embassy in Washington D.C.
Musicians from diverse communities in Central Java were encouraged to participate, creating an eclectic representation of participants and compositions. This event created rare professional encounters between master gamelan musicians and talented newcomers.
Composers were tasked to creating pieces that could be performed by any gamelan group around the world using standard notation and musical techniques.
Composers / Category / Title / Form & Tuning
1. Bapak Wahyu Santoso Prabowo & Nyi Dewi Galuh Sinta Sari. Dance: Lesmana—Sarpakenaka. Pelog nem/barang
2. Bapak Harjito. Gendhing Bonang Angembari kt 4 kr mg 8, pelog lima
3. Bapak Bambang Sosodoro “Wawan”. Gendhing Bonang Pepak kt 4 kr mg 8, pelog nem
4. Bapak Yohanes Subowo (Yogya). Bonangan Ladrang Gumregah, alternating slendro/pelog
5. Bapak Wakidjo Warsopangrawit. Gendhing Kembang Wijaya kt 2 kr mg 4 kalj Ladrang Kusuma, pelog lima
6. Bapak Harjito. Gendhing Sinugraha kt 2 kr minggah Ladrang Suka Sokur, pelog nem
7. Nyi “Uul” Mambaul Khasanah. Jineman Panjangkahku, pelog barang
8. Bapak Pardiman Joyonegoro (Yogya). Gendhing Mega Mendhung Jati Karang pelog nem
9. Bapak Wiarsa Untung. Ketawang Gendhing Wirasa kt 2 kr mg Ldr Kumaleang, Ketawang Mulya slendro sanga
10. Bapak Henri Panyandra. Jineman Panyandra Gendhing Waranggana kt 2 kr mg 4, pl nem
11. Bapak Supanjang Murti Raharjo. Gendhing Manekung kt 2 kr mg 4 dados Ayak-ayak Manekung, slendro manyura
12. Ki Jungkung Darmoyo. Panutup Nusantara Arts, pelog barang
13. Bapak Widodo Brotosejati (Semarang) Panutup Pujangga Laras ”Ruming Driya”, pelog barang
A limited number of notation books containing the new compositions, composer bios, and background information about the new pieces will be published to commemorate this historic event and encourage gamelan groups outside of Indonesia to become familiar with these composers and their pieces, fostering a legacy of interaction between our distant communities. Books will be given for a tbd fair market value donation equal to the cost of the books publication. The more books we order the less expensive it will be for everyone!
#1 – Beksan Gendhing Tari – Dance Composition: Lesmana—Sarpakenaka. Pelog nem/barang
Composer and choreographer: Bapak Wahyu Santoso Prabowo & Nyi Dewi Galuh Sinta Sari. (Solo)
Pak Wahyu Santoso Prabowo created this dance fragment partly out of a desire to have a female example of kiprahan movements and highly sexually-charged gandrungan movements (which is culturally/stereotypically non-feminine)—neither of which existed in the classical Central Javanese dance world yet. He chose the character Sarpakenaka of the Ramayana, as she would fit these types of movements and there was no treatment of her yet in the dance world as a main character.
#2 – Gendhing Bonang Angembari kt 4 kr minggah 8, pelog lima
Composer: Bapak I.M. Harjito. (USA)
Classic gendhing bonang structured piece that omits the elaborating panerusan instruments. This piece features a long and stately main section which eventually leads to the hallmark fast and furious minggah section with balungan fireworks to spare.
#3 – Gendhing Bonang Pepak kt 4 kr minggah 8, pelog nem
Composer: Bapak Bambang Sosodoro “Wawan” (Solo)
Pak Wawan wrote Pepak, which means “Complete” to fill a gap in the classical gamelan repertoire. There is no other gendhing bonang piece written in pelog nem tuning. They exist in bounty in both pelog lima and pelog barang. Because of this hole in the repertoire, during the Maulud festival at which the ceremonial Sekaten instruments are played, there are no appropriate gendhing bonang songs to play in the early afternoon (siang) when pelog nem should be played. Instead the groups play gendhing rebab in a bonangan style instead. Pepek fills that gap and completes the repertoire. The piece is also complete in another sense with complete technique and a range of composition techniques.
#4 – Bonangan Ladrang Gumregah, alternating slendro/pelog tunings
Composer: Bapak Yohanes Subowo (Yogya)
This was one of the most difficult compositions to learn in a short period of time by Pak Wakidis expert group of musicians. It has a unique form, requires musicians to switch tunings in the piece several times, and is a bit outside the norm of standard performance Javasnese repertoire, including Sundanese playing styles. However, the piece requires no special technique that is outside the abilities of most gamelan groups around the world
#5 – Gendhing Kembang Wijaya kt 2 kr mg 4 kalj Ladrang Kusuma, pelog lima
Composer: Bapak Wakidjo Warsopangrawit (Solo)
Pak Wakidjo (Pak Wakidi’s older brother) was one of the most famous gamelan drummers of all time, with his signature playing style gracing dozens if not hundreds of tape recordings during gamelan’s golden age. He was also a composer, but not very many recordings of his compositions exist. Kembang Wijaya (Kusuma) is a totally classical piece and written after Pak Wakidjo had been ill. It was a well wishing for him to get better. “Kembang Wijaya Kusuma” is the name of one of Kresna’s amulets in wayang that brings people back to life when fatally ill. This piece was chosen for its appropriateness during Covid times.
#6 – Gendhing Sinugraha kt 2 kr minggah LadrangSuka Sokur, pelog nem
Composer: Bapak I.M. Harjito. (USA)
This is a lively piece that is also a beautiful tribute to Nusantara Arts. Pak Harjito used sandi asma writing technique which embeds secret words in the vocal text. The text is about the coronavirus pandemic and the creation of this composition event. the secret words hidden are Nusantara Art, Matt Dunning, and Harjito.
Kacipta lagu punika,
Ing swasana subasita,
Angjangkepi kang rencana,
Ngumpulken para panyripta.[
[This melody was created,
[In a polite and respectful context,
[In order to fulfill the plan,
To gather together all the composers.]
#7 – Jineman Panjangkahku, pelog barang
Composer: Nyi “Uul” Mambaul Khasanah. (Karanganyar)
Nyi Uul wrote this beautiful jineman in honor and love for her first-born—Jangkah, who is not even 1 years old yet. She wanted the gender player to play “Relaxed, full of beauty, and also a little cute” in certain sections of the piece, deviating from standard gender technique, like calming a baby with cute but relaxed little gestures.
#8 – Gendhing Mega Mendhung Jati Karang pelog nem
Composer: Bapak Pardiman Joyonegoro (Yogya)
This wonderful piece is an arrangement and reinterpretation of several classic pieces, with the addition of new vocals and a new structure. This piec e was a favorite of the musicians who felt taht the piece was very refreshing. Mega Mendhung is a prior “big gendhing” piece that is long and large. The meaning of the name is “Cloudy Sky”. Jati Karang, which means “strong rock” is a shorter version of this piece that is a much different reinterpretation that showcases a dignified and strong personality. Pak Pardiman also chose this theme to honor his home which is near the Karangjati street in Yopgyakarta..
#9 – Ketawang Gendhing Wirasa kt 2 kr minggahg Ladrang Kumaleang, Ketawang Mulya slendro sanga
Composer: Bapak Wiarsa Untung (Solo)
Pak Wiarsa is a member of the “Condhong Rumaos” amateur musician group in solo which is dedicated to classic karawitan music and often livestreams performances during Covid times. This composition is meant to convey sadness and grief: the fear of illness, the lack of work, romantic problems, and other personal matters. However the ending ketawang “Mulya” offers some hope to close out the piece.
#10 – Jineman Panyandra Gendhing Waranggana kt 2 kr mg 4, pl nem
Composer: Bapak Henri Panyandra (Solo)
An absolutely gorgeous gendhing and jineman with some similarities to the well known piece “Onang Onang”, but with a very unique merong section. The musicians really enjoyed playing this piece.
#11 – Gendhing Manekung kt 2 kerep minggah 4 dados Ayak-ayak Manekung, slendro manyura
Composor: Bapak Supanjang Murti Raharjo. (Solo)
A slendro Manyura gendhing with a rare and beautiful Ayak with vocals that can be used in different situations.
#12 – Panutup Nusantara Arts, pelog barang
Composer: Ki Jungkung Darmoyo (Klaten/Solo)
This composition is a penutup piece, which is used as a closing composition for a gamelan music concert. Often times these pieces are signature pieces for a group, that they are know for using very often. This one was written specifically for Nusantara Arts to use if they desired.
#13 – Panutup Pujangga Laras ”Ruming Driya”, pelog barang
Composer Bapak Widodo Brotosejati (Semarang)
This composition is a penutup piece, which is used as a closing composition for a gamelan music concert. Often times these pieces are signature pieces for a group, that they are know for using very often. This one was written specifically for the Pujangga Laras group to use if they desired.
“Composer’s Wanted!” Credits