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Group: Gamelan Nyai Saraswati
Performance: 8 December 2001
(other performances: 7 June 2001,
18 January 2002 "Gamelan Gala",
20 March 2003,
23 November 2003 ("New Music Concert")
7 April 2004 "Molak-Malik"
21 November 2004 "World Music Concert"
22 April 2005 "World Music Concert"
13 November 2005
2 April 2006 "Reinventing Black Mountain"
19 November 2006
25 April 2007 "World Music Concert"
26 April 2009 "An Evening of Javanese Music and Dance"
21 November 2010 "Music in the Galleries"
Gamelan Nyai Saraswati
December 8, 2001, 3:00 PM
Chapel Hill Museum
This concert, publicized only to family and friends of the group,
was a "dry run" of our still-to-come inaugural January concert.
The approach of the concert was heralded by the presence of
Midiyanto S. Putra, from Lewis and Clark College,
who spent the two days before our concert tuning the gamelan
and generously giving members of the group private lessons on
Incidentally, Mas Midiyanto was the previous owner of this gamelan,
making his presence here even more poignant.
Thanks to him for playing with us and
for sharing his time and his wisdom!
These recordings were captured through the wonders of mini-disc
Available audio files (how do I listen to these recordings?):
Gending Bonang TUKUNG
Gendhing Bonang Tukung kethuk 4 kerep, minggah kethuk 8,
Laras Pelog, Pathet Barang
This piece features the set of racked gongs called bonang,
thus the term gendhing bonang or large-scale piece for bonang.
This piece is composed in two sections (cycles or gongan), each
with 128 beats between strokes of the large gong. In order to count the
beats, one must listen to the metallophone players. This group plays the
same basic melody in several different octaves; the melody played by them
is called the balungan or skeleton. The relationship of this melody
to those played by other instruments is much like that of the skeleton
to the rest of the human body -- if the melody is the bones, the bonang,
elaborating on the basic melody is like the skin and distinguishing features,
while the drums and gong, punctuating arrivals in the cycle as time passes
are like the heart and internal organs. In the first section, the drummer
settles the ensemble into a slow tempo allowing a focus on the artistry
of the bonang player; in the second section (minggah), the
tempo and volume gradually increase to the point at which it seems the
ensemble cannot play any faster or louder. The drummer then slows the ensemble
as we head toward the final gong. Gendhing Bonang are played outside
the inner palace walls of Central Java during the celebration of Mohammed's
birthday, known as Sekaten. The ensembles used for this festival
are much larger than Nyai Saraswati. The metallophone slabs can measure
as much as four inches thick. A measure of the desired volume for these
pieces, players may receive a reward from the sultan if they manage to
crack one of the slabs with the force of their stroke while performing.
Ladrang Wilujeng, Laras Slendro, Pathet Manyura
Traditionally used as the first piece in a performance to ensure good
luck and prosperity, gamelan groups outside of Java tend to teach it
as the first piece one learns on any instrument.
Ladrang Asmaradana slendro manyura
This popular piece has two sections, the second an expansion of the first
and featuring a chorus.
Gending ERANG-ERANG BAGELAN
Gendhing Erang-erang Bagelan kethuk 2 kerep,
minggah Ladrang Opak-Apem, Laras Pelog, Pathet Nem
This lively piece, whose title means
to jokingly warn someone, starts off at a spritely tempo. In the second section
the drummer switches to ciblonan drumming and the basic melody moves at
twice the usual tempo. The name of the second section refers to two types
of sweet cakes, the first a wafer cookie and the second a rice fritter.
Gendhing Lobong kethuk 2 kerep, minggah Kinanti,
kalajengaken Ladrang Kembang Pepe, Laras Slendro, Pathet Manyura
This piece has a first section composed of two different
melodic cycles. The second and third sections of the piece feature a
large mixed chorus.