Collections of themed recordings curated by John Noise Manis

Gamelan of Central Java – 33 COURT MUSIC GEMS


Track 1 – Ketawang bedhayan DURADASIH slendro manyura 20:58

Track 2 – Gendhing bonang DHENGGUNG TURULARE pelog nem 14:08

Track 3 – Gendhing GAMBIR SAWIT slendro sanga 14:57



As a first piece – TRACK 1 – this album offers us a section of a larger gendhing that accompanies a bedhaya dance called Dura Dasih or Dora Dasih (meaning “deceitful love”). Bedhaya is a genre of court ceremonial dances. Performed by seven or nine female dancers, the dance evokes a solemn and peaceful atmosphere. The section included in the album is ketawang Kinanthi Dura Dasih. It is a piece composed on the basis of macapat Kinanthi, one of the forms of sung-poetry.

As the name of this dance indicates, “love” is the theme of the piece. This is made explicit by the fact that the sung texts, especially the beginning and middle sections of the entire piece, connote love and eroticism. The text is composed following certain rules of macapat poems: fixed number of lines per stanza, fixed number of syllables per line, and fixed end-vowel in each of the lines. This fact, compounded with the symbolism of the text, makes very difficult to decipher the precise meaning. This is true for all of the song-texts of the gendhing, and the text of ketawang Kinanthi Dura Dasih is particularly allusive. I was told by my gamelan teachers that actually the song-text of this section describes an act of sexual union. Fish, red lotus, mosses, and weed refer to private organs. A sentence such as kasereg roning tarate bang (penetrated is the red lotus leaf) and kagyat dening iwak molah (startled [is she] by the movement of the fish) suggest a sexual act. So far I have not heard anyone else to interpret the text in this way. In any event, I should mention that the dance movements and configurations which this piece accompanies do not in anyway convey the message of the text. In fact, the dance in this section is not much different than other serimpi dances. This suggests that the meaning of the song-text does not necessarily relate to the meaning of the music or the dance, a common practice in gamelan literature.

Saya nengah denya adus, andhe
Lara laraning kinanthi
Kaserek roning tarate bang, andhe
Tinubing maruta kengis
Kagyad dening iwak molah, andhe
Amangsa kalalar keli, andhe
Ganggeng irim-irim arum
Tunjung merut kanan kering, andhe
Delegnya angrong ing sela
Lelumute angalingi, andhe
Kayu apune anamar
Kataweng unthuking warih, andhe
Kinanthi sidadal banyu
Kontal patelesan kentir, andhe
Rinangsang-rangsang tan kena
Cinandhak-candhak nginggati, andhe
Pan ginayuh-gayuh tuna
Amuyeng madyaning warih, andhe
Sun kekembanging wong agung
Sun kekembanging wong adi, andhe
Kenanga lan sumarsana
Argulo gambir melathi, andhe
Anrus gandaning kusuma
Baya daulating dasih


The one who baths is gradually moving to the middle
Kinanthi song of the sensation of pain
Penetrated is the red lotus leaf
The wind blows, exposing [the red lotus] a little
Startling is the movement of the fish
Devouring the floating residue
The fragrance of irim-irim weed is sweet
The lotus flower drifts to left and right
A large fish hides [in-between] the stones
The mosses conceal it
The weed disappears
Hidden in the water foam
Kinanthi song of those to be washed out by water
Swallowed by floating watery cloth
Trying to grab it, yet to no avail
Trying to reach it, yet to be missed
Trying to attain it, yet unsuccessful
Circling the middle of water
I am the flower of a great man
I am the flower of an esteemed man
As the flowers of kenanga and cempaka plant,
Rose, gambir flowers, and jasmine
Penetrating is the fragrance of the venerable one
Causing my feeling of love to arouse


Gendhing bonang DHENGGUNG TURULARE, pelog nem.
Gendhing bonang is an instrumental piece – vocalists and all soft-sounding instruments do not participate. As in any gendhing bonang, toward the end of the gendhing, the inggah is played in a loud style. This is the climax of gendhing bonang – musicians must produce a loud sound from their instrument in fast tempi. The intense percussive sound of bronze instruments is where musical delight lies.
It has been said by some musicians that pieces with the initial name Dhenggung (there are several of them) have a connection with Sundanese gamelan Dhegung. But there is not yet any proof or analysis about this connection. The only similarity of these pieces with gamelan Dhegung is the fact that they all utilize only five notes (12356 out of 1234567 of the pelog tuning system for Javanese Dhenggung).



Gendhing GAMBIR SAWIT, slendro sanga.
This is one of the well-known pieces in gamelan. There is a song-text of a bawa (vocal introduction to gendhing) composed especially for Gambir Sawit that testifies the fame of this piece. It says in part: “….from ancient time to nowadays, Gambir Sawit has never bored anyone, even if it is sounded three times in one hour….”
There are a number of versions of Gambir Sawit. Besides klenengan, the piece can also be performed to accompany dance and wayang scenes. Usually, gerong-texts for the first part of the piece (merong) is Kinanthi (a macapat sung-poetry consisting of six lines per stanza), and the gerong starts at the beginning of the second kenongan phrase. In this album, the gerong singers chose Sinom (seven lines per stanza). To fit into the gendhing structure, the gerong starts to sing in the third kenongan, and the last line of the verse is split in two lines.
Gambir Sawit here is presented in an abbreviated version. In a typical klenengan, the merong is played two times before it goes to the ngelik section. Here, after the first gongan, it goes straight to the ngelik. The second part of the piece (inggah) is also a condensed version. It is played only in irama wilet. Performing this section in irama rangkep, which is known for its very lively treatment and evokes a lively atmosphere, would be a must in a klenengan.

Gendhing GAMBIR SAWIT – Gerongan, Sinom metre

Nulada laku utama
Tumrape wong tanah Jawi
Wong Agung ing Ngeksiganda
Panembahan Senopati
Kapati amarsudi
Sudaning hawa lan nepsu
Pinesu tapa brata
Tanapi ing siyang ratri
Amemangun karyenak tyasing sasama

An example of good behaviour
For the people of Java
Is the great man of Ngeksiganda [Mataram]
The venerable Senopati.
To attain intensely
The diminishing of passions
By pursuing it through meditation
Day and night
Creating the conditions for one’s well-being.


CREDITS for Track 2 and 3

Pesindhen (female singer): Nyi Cendaniraras
Gerong (male chorus): Darsono, Rustopo, Waridi
Rebab: Suraji
Gender: Ibu Pringgo Hadiwiyono
Bonang: Supardi, Rusdiyantoro
Musicians of STSI (now ISI) and Kraton Surakarta
Music coordinator: Joko Purwanto
Recording made 11 May, 2004, in the pendhapa Sasono Sewoko of Kraton Surakarta
Gamelan Kyai Kaduk Manis Manis Rengga
Special gratitude is expressed to G. P. H. Cakraningrat (Gusti Nur), a son of the late Susuhunan Paku Buwana XII


CREDITS for Track 1

Pesindhen (female singers):
GRAy Koes Murtiyah
Nyi Lr. Cendaniraras (Mulyani)
Nyi Lr. Maduraras (Mujinah)
Nyi Lr. Puspitoraras (Suparni)
Rebab: M. Suraji, S. Kar. M. Sn.
Kendhang/Penunthung: R. Ng. Pandoyopangrawit (Sukarno)
Gender barung: M. Ng. Karnopangrawit (Sukarno)
Gender penerus: M. Ng. Mulyopangrawit (Bedjo Hardjomulyono)
Bonang barung: R. Ng. Drs. Harsodiprojo
Bonang penerus: M. Ng. Hadipangrawit (Hadimino)
Slenthem: R. Ng. Gunodiprojo (Susanto)
Demung: R. Ng. Projopangrawit (Joko Daryanto, S.Sn.)
Saron: RT. Hastodipuro, S. Kar. (Tri Hastotomo)
R. Ng. Warsodiprojo (Suwardi)
Saron penerus (peking): M. Ng. Daryopangrawit (Kadaryadi)
Gambang: M. Sugiyanto, S. Sn.
Gong/Kempul: M. Ng. Madyopangrawit (Sumadi)
Kenong: M. Ng. Subektyopangrawit (Slamet)
Kethuk: M. Ng. Brotopangrawit (Sumarno)


Gamelan Kyai Lokananta, playing inside the pavillion Androvino

Recording made on June 29, 2007, with the gracious permission of Princess Dra. G.R.Ay. Koes Murtiyah (Gusti Mung)
Programme design, recording, and mastering: John Noise Manis