Gamelan of Central Java – 39
PEAKS of REFINEMENT
Track 1 – Gendhing bonang KEMBANG GEMPOL pelog lima 11:00
Track 2 – Gendhing KEMBANG MARA pelog lima 26:00
Gendhing bonang KEMBANG GEMPOL, pelog lima.
The flower (gempol) giving the title to this composition does not have an English equivalent. We may simply enjoy the pure sound of the gamelan in its typical instrumental version. This is probably the sound that more easily fascinates the Western ear, and rightly so. It can be possibly said that the sounds of the rebab and of the pesindhen (female voice) – which characterise a large portion of Javanese gamelan music – require a bit more time for the taste to be acquired on the part of a newcomer into gamelan music.
The second part of the piece – the minggah – is actually in a ladrang form with its own title: Bayemtur.
Gendhing KEMBANG MARA, pelog lima.
The title of this majestic gendhing means litterally “the flower comes”, which immediately indicates the symbolic context used in this and in many musical compositions. In this case, one interpretation has “flower” standing for “maiden”.
The text sung in this gendhing follows the practice used in many vocal compositions. The type of text used is known as wangsalan – when singing, the pesindhen draws at will from a collection of poetic riddles.
There are two practical consequences of this practice. Firstly, there is not a fixed one-to-one correspondence between a given composition and a given text. Secondly, as the pesindhen adapts a text to a piece, it can occur that the sentences are somewhat rearranged or stay incomplete in order to follow the needs of the music.
The music is highly expressive in this classical form, where the rebab and the female voice are protagonists. This particular performance was designed to have a relatively sparse singing in the merong (first half of the gendhing), in a way to emphasise the stately character of the beautiful composition. Towards the end there is a section, sesegan, where a change in mood takes place and a fast pace is taken by the metallophones (bonang and saron) in absence of rebab and pesindhen – these both rejoin before the final gong.
The gendhing does not end before the stringed instrument has played its long expressive coda (pathetan) accompanied by the gender and the gambang.
Pesindhen: Nyi Cendaniraras
Gender: Ibu Pringga
Niyaga (Musicians): Darno, Darsono, Hadi Boediono, Nyoman Sukerna, Panggiyo, Prasadiyanto, Rusdiyantoro, Rustopo, Sarno, Sigit Astono, Slamet Riyadi, Sukamso, Waridi.
Gamelan: The ‘ancient gamelan’ of STSI (now ISI) Surakarta
Musical Coordination: Joko Purwanto
Recording: June 22, 2002 at Studio Sembilanbelas of STSI
Sound Engineer: Iwan Onone
Mix and mastering: John Noise Manis