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A Concert of Court Music of Central Java (March 8, 1978)

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 43 min
Event Type: Music Program Origin: KPFA

Recorded by KPFA on March 8, 1978, this is a concert of court music from Central Java, performed on a gamelan in Hertz Hall on the campus of the University of California in Berkeley.

The word gamelan refers to the whole set of instruments collectively. Unlike the Western orchestra, the gamelan consists of the instruments only, and not the players. Each gamelan, and often large gongs as well, is given a name and treated with great reverence. The name of this gamelan is Khyai Udan Mas: Venerable Golden Rain. Tuning in Indonesia is widely variable, so each set of instruments has a unique musical character. A full gamelan has virtually two sets of instruments in different tuning systems: slendro, with 5 tones, and pelog with 7. With each system, different tonal hierarchies yield modes, called patet. There are various ways to describe the musical functions of the gamelan instruments. One Javanese classification groups them as follows: the rows of gongs in the back are a cradle or foundation for the irama (roughly tempo), the row of one-octave metallophones “cradle” the lagu (melody), the instruments in the front elaborate on the lagu by improvising in formulaic patterns, the rebab (stringed instrument) leads the lagu, and the kendang (drums) lead the irama. Thus the “melody” is not played by any one type of instrument, but is a result of the entire ensemble playing together.

This particular concert featured three works. The first “Ladrang Pangkur” is a ladrang, which is a musical form in which a 32 beat cycle is marked at the end by a large gong. The second “Ketawang Puspawarna” means “Many Types of Flowers” and was meant to be played when the Sultan entered the room. The third piece “Landrang Tirtakencana” is like the first piece in that the Pelog tuning is used, but different pitches are selected, thus forming a different mode. All three works include some form of singing as well and were performed under the direction of K.R.T. Wasitodipuro.

Program notes by Jody Diamond and Daniel Schmidt

Musical Selections:  Ladrang Pangkur, laras Pelog, patet Baran (14:38) -- Ketawang Puspawarna, laras Slendro, patet Manyura (10:42) -- Landrang Tirtakencana, laras Pelog, patet Nem (10:24)
Performers:  K.R.T. Wasitodipuro, conductor
Genre:  World Music
Subject:  Gamelan music; Songs with gamelan; Music -- Indonesia
People:  Wasitodipuro, K.R.T.
Recording Date:  3/8/1978
 
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