Collections of themed recordings curated by John Noise Manis

Gamelan of Central Java – 34


Track 01 – Macapat KINANTHI slendro sanga 1:04
Track 02 – Macapat MEGATRUH slendro sanga 1:14
Track 03 – Palaran MEGATRUH slendro sanga 4:30
Track 04 – Macapat GAMBUH pelog nem 1:20
Track 05 – Palaran MASKUMAMBANG slendro sanga 3:48
Track 06 – Macapat DHANDHANGULA slendro sanga 2:36
Track 07 – Palaran PANGKUR and Dolanan slendro sanga 7:56
Track 08 – Macapat SINOM slendro sanga 2:55
Track 09 – Palaran DURMA slendro sanga 4:10
Track 10 – Sulukan – Pathetan Ageng slendro nem 4:46
Track 1 1 – Gendhing PARISUKA pelog nem (Martopangrawit) 10:40





Tracks 1 through 9 present two forms of macapat sung poetry:

(1) macapat song in its original style, i.e., as monophonic, un-pulsed, and unaccompanied song; and
(2) macapat song in palaran style: the singing of a macapat song accompanied by a piece in srepegan structure.

Srepegan refers to a structure of gendhing, in which kenong and kempul are played as both melodic instruments and markers in the gongan structure. The piece itself is also called srepegan.
In this palaran presentation, first, a srepegan is played. At a certain point, the drum cues the ensemble to switch to palaran. At this point, gender, gambang, kenong, kempul, kethuk, and gong continue to play in the srepegan structure, accompanying the macapat song, while other instruments drop out.

It is instructive to compare Megatruh in its original, unaccompanied song (track 2) and in palaran style (track 3), where the same melody is employed. One can compare the phrasing of un-pulsed, metric-free Megatruh and its transformation into un-pulsed song but accompanied by a metrically-fixed srepegan structure.
It should be noted that a macapat song may have different melodic versions.

One of the musical elements in a palaran is senggakan: a brief melodic interlude sung by male singers to make the piece more exciting. The text of senggakan can be rather humorous, such as dua lolo oooing (two is two, oooing); it can also contain words of praise, such as edi peni peni peni (so beautiful and priceless). Palaran Pangkur (track 7) is rich with senggakan; other palaran may have fewer senggakan, or not at all. In the present album, senggakan is sung only in palaran Pangkur.

In the original form, macapat is performed by unaccompanied solo singer. The singer can choose whatever melodic register which he or she is comfortable with. This is also to say that macapat song is not constrained by pathet (modal category). But when more and more macapat songs were recomposed to become gamelan pieces, the relation of these poetic metres with the gamelan became closer; the application of pathet category became common practice.

It is worth mentioning the scale used in Maskumambang and Durma (track 5 and 9). The gamelan accompaniment of the two palaran is in slendro, but the song is sung in a sub-scale called barang miring. This is constructed by flattening two tones of the five-tone slendro scale. The result is a pelog-like scale.


Track 10.
Sulukan is a generic term for songs of the dhalang. There are three types of sulukan: pathetan, sendhon, and ada-ada. They are sung as a musical interlude and/or to heighten the mood of a scene in wayang kulit. A few texts of sulukan are taken from macapat sung poetry, but most of them are drawn from unaccompanied song-genres of sekar ageng and sekar tengahan. In a wayang performance, sulukan Pathet Nem Ageng (track 10) is sung at the end of the first scene. The text is taken from one of the oldest Javanese poems, Bharatayuda. It is a Javanese version of an episode of the Hindu Mahabharata epic, written in Sanskrit-based old Javanese language.

Commonly, pathetan is accompanied by an ensemble consisting of rebab, gender, gambang, and suling (optional). In this album, it is accompanied by solo gender. The gender player is a female musician. Today, there are only a few female gender players (Sarah Weiss deals with this subject in her commentary of another Yantra production). Track 10 is a valuable case for study – the listener can hear clearly solo gender and appreciate female gender playing style, which is quite different than male gender style.


Ibu Pringga Hadiwiyono, circa 2002

Track 11.
This album contains a non-traditional offering. The element of tempo 3/4 in Pak Marto’s ‘Parisuka’ is a bit unusual, knowing the composer’s keenness in classical gendhing. As far as I know this is the only piece in which Pak Martopangrawit utilized a Western meter. But incorporating Western musical idioms has long been the interest of some composers. There are examples of this kind of pieces, although not employing 3/4 meter. Perhaps the oldest one is a piece called “Kopi Susu.” The piece is composed in Western diatonic scale by approximating it in the pelog pitches. In the 1950s, Hardja Subrata composed a series of pieces with three-part chorus. In essence, Parisuka is one of the examples resulting from this occasional creativity by Javanese composer-musicians to adapt an element of the Western musical idioms.


Para kanca aparisuka tetabuhan sinawung tembang
Pra kanca samya ka suka,
Tetembangan anglipur driya,
Datan supe angolah rasa,
Rasa inkang lumantar swara.

Sinawunging pradangga ngrerangin,
Kang pradangga munya ngungkung,
Rebut yatmakaning gendhing,
Ya bapak, ya bapak, karya horeg ing bawana,
Bawana kinelem sari, andhe,
Sarining kang rasa mulya,
Rasa mulya sung basuki.



Friends, who love playing and singing,
Friends, let’s enjoy the same things,
And sing to make our hearts happy,
Don’t forget to calm your feelings,
Feelings conveyed by your singing.

Expressed as a song for a melodious gamelan,
A sweet sounding gamelan ,
Showing clearly the soul of the gendhing,
Yes father, yes father, sound that shakes the world,
The world as if it were immersed in the essence,
The essence of noble feelings,
Noble feelings that give happiness.





Pesindhen (female singers):

Nyi Cendaniraras (including all macapat), Nyi Suparsih

Gerong (male chorus):

Darsono, Rustopo, Waridi

Gender and sulukan singer:

Ibu Pringga Hadiwiyono

Musicians of STSI (now ISI) Surakarta:

Darno, Djoko Santosa, Hadi Boediono, Kuwat, Nyoman Sukerna, Rusdiyantoro, Sarno, Slamet Riyadi, Sugimin, Sukamso, Supardi, Suraji.

Music Coordinator:

Joko Purwanto


Recordings made 6-7 May, 2004, in the Studio of ISI.
The “ancient” gamelan of ISI playing.
Sound Engineer: Iwan Onone
Programme Design, Mixing, Mastering, and Photos: John Noise Manis