Collections of themed recordings curated by John Noise Manis

GAMELAN OF CENTRAL JAVA 40 – THREE FAVOURITE PESINDHEN

1. Ladrang Sekar Gadhung slendro manyura – Nyi Cendaniraras
2. Ladrang Gadhung Mlati slendro sanga – Nyi Sri Suparsih
3. Ladrang Sekar Gadhung slendro manyura – Nyi Yayuk Sri Rahayu

From previously published notes provided by
Prof. Bapak Sumarsam:

SEKAR GADHUNG is rarely played.
It is one of the very few pieces with introductory melodies played by the gambang (wooden xylophone). Unfortunately, its origin and background are difficult to trace.
The piece incorporates several elements of song texts: the generic wangsalan (a poetic design that works as a riddle, thus of apparently obscure meaning), isen-isen (a filling-in line used by the pesindhen), the kinanthi meter, and some verses from children’s stories.

It is curious that in the composition the words “merdiko salaminya” (‘free forever’) are added as an ending-line to the kinanthi text.

Does ‘free’ point to the freedom to master individual life, as an interpretation of the text might suggest? Or does it refer to ‘free Indonesia’, i.e. Indonesia indipendent from colonialism?

All things considered, SEKAR GADHUNG is really a unique piece.

 

From previously published notes provided by
Dr. Sarah Weiss:

Ladrang GADHUNG MLATI has an interesting connection with the gender. The piece is a sacred song for the principal court of Surakarta and its coming to the court is interwined with some of the oldest Javanese traditions regarding the authenticity of the Central Javanese courts as power centers.

The piece was brought to the court by the gender player Nyai Jlamprang who was a court musician of the ruler, Paku Buwana. Although the story is told in several versions in manuscripts from several different centuries, this retelling captures most of the important aspects of the tale.

Nyai Jlamprang had been struck down by the plague that was being spread around Java by Nyai Lara Kidul, Goddess of the South Sea and eternal consort of the rules of all four of the courts of Central Java. Nyai Lara Kidul would habitually populate her undersea realm with the souls of those who died during the plagues she caused on land. On her arrival to the undersea palace, Nyai Jlamprang insisted that she be returned to her home and to the Paku Buwana. Nyai Lara Kidul refused and, in an effort to entice Nyai Jlamprang to enjoy her stay, offered to teach the young gender player one of Nyai Lara Kidul’s own gender pieces, Ladrang Gadhung Mlati. Nyai Jlamprang dutifully learned the diffucult piece, by all accounts rather quickly, and insisted once again that she be returned to the land of Paku Buwana. Nyai Lara Kidul tried several other lures but failed and in the end allowed Nyai Jlamprang to return to her home. For the journey back, Nyai Jlamprang was provided with turmeric and ginger roots as provisions.

As her family was washing and preparing her body for burial, Nyai Jlamprang suddenly returned to her corporeal existence. Her shocked family rejoiced as her body shuddered and life returned. The provisions provided by Nyai Lara Kidul miraculously turned to gold and silver that Nyai Jlamprang gave to the Paku Buwana before she played for him the new piece from Nyai Lara Kidul.

To this day the performance of Ladrang Gadhung Mlati requires a raft of special offerings prior to its performance.
Many Javanese musicians decline to play the piece when asked, citing its sacred nature.

The importance of the gender and female gender players in Central Javanese culture is reflected in their centrality in a story that confirms the historical legitimacy of the rulers of Central Java.

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Nyi Cendaniraras

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Nyi Sri Suparsih

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Nyi Yayuk Sri Rahayu

 

Gamelan:  Kyai Gedhong Gedhe of ISI Surakarta
Gender in ‘Gadhung Mlati’:  Bu Pringga
Gerong (male chorus):  Darsono, Rustopo, Waridi
Niyaga (musicians):  Al Suwardi, Darno, Hadi Boediono, Joko Purwanto, Nurwanto, Nyoman Sukerna, Panggiyo, Prasadiyanto, Rusdiyantoro, Sarno, Sigih, Sigit Astono, Slamet Riyadi, Sriharta, Sri Joko Raharjo, Sukamso, Supardi, Suraji, Suyadi, Wakijo

Recordings made in 2002 and 2008 at ISI Surakarta
Mastering and photos: John Noise Manis

YANTRA PRODUCTIONS

john.noise.manis@gmail.com