Gamelan Nyai Saraswati

Gamelan Nyai Saraswati is an ensemble of the Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


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Group:  Gamelan Nyai Saraswati

Performance: 20 March 2003  (other performances:  7 June 2001,  8 December 2001,  18 January 2002 "Gamelan Gala",  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
An Evening of Central Javanese Music
March 20, 2003, 8:00 PM
Hill Hall Auditorium
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Guest Artists: I.M. Harjito and Sri Hadeni Harjito

This concert marked our return to Hill Hall after concerts throughout the Triangle, and our fourth concert for the school year.

For this concert, we were joined by I.M. Harjito and Sri Hadeni Harjito of Wesleyan University who were kind enough to honor us during their visit by sharing their collective wisdom and music-making.

Available audio files (how do I listen to these recordings?):

Ladrang SIYEM slendro nem


Ladrang Siyem, Laras Slendro, Pathet Nem

The quick and somewhat unpredictable nature of the part played by the core of the metallophones is unlike most other pieces in the Javanese tradition. Indeed, as hinted at in the name, this piece commemorates a state visit in 1870-71 to Java by King Chulalongjorn of Thailand, then Siam (Siyem in Javanese). Perhaps this melody reflects Javanese interpretations of the sounds of the Thai court piphat ensemble that accompanied the Siamese King on his tour.

Gendhing RANDHUKENTIR Ladrang AYUN-AYUN pelog nem


Gendhing Randhukentir kethuk 2 kerep, minggah Ladrang Ayun-Ayun, Laras Pelog, Pathet Nem

Commonly used for both dance and concert music, this piece begins with a playful melody that may reflect the title which refers to the movement of a kapok seed as it gets caught in the eddies and swirls of a river current. Although we will perform the piece in concert style, in the second section we will play the gobyogan associated with the dance. Listen for a sudden speed up followed by multiple gong strokes and sudden stops. The choreography of the dance throughout the second section involves swaying movements, or ayun-ayunan.

Ladrang SRI KUNCORO pelog nem


Ladrang Sri Kuncoro, Laras Pelog, Pathet Nem

Simple in form but beautiful in melody is the way one Javanese musician described this piece. In performance, the phrases lead perfectly from one to other and the modal orientation throughout is clear and satisfying.

Ladrang WILUJENG slendro manyura


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. Most people playing in this piece have learned to play their instruments within the last six months.

Gendhing RAKET Ladrang PAMUDYA pelog barang


Gendhing Raket kethuk 2 kerep, minggah Ladrang Pamudya, Laras Pelog, Pathet Barang

The first section of this piece is popular in Central Java and can be played in three different modes, both scales, and occasionally with a different name. The second section features a chorus of men and women's voices that reflects Javanese responses to contact with European colonial musical traditions in the nineteenth century.

Ladrang SRI KATON Ketawang SUKSMA ILANG Ayak-ayakan Srepegan Sampak slendro manyura


Ladrang Sri Katon, Ketawang Suksma Ilang, Ayak-ayakan, Srepegan, Sampak, Laras Slendro, Pathet Manyura

This suite is often used as an introduction to the all-night performance of a wayang or shadow puppet performance. Performed in the mode that is used at the end of the wayang, the suite represents aurally the cyclic nature of the performance and life itself. This is the first wayang repertoire that Gamelan Nyai Saraswati has attempted. With this suite, we have begun our preparation for a four-hour (half-length) wayang performance we hope to present sometime in the Spring semester of 2004.

Director: Daniel Guberman (email:
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