Jody Diamond and Larry
Department of Music
Hanover, NH 03755
Contemporary Indonesian Music: Research and Documentation 1
Collaboration as an Essential Component of Cross-Cultural Research 3
How were these values applied? 4
Selection Process 5
Structure of the Recording Project 6
The Recordings 7
The Pieces 8
Conclusion: Trends and Continuity 11
Appendix 1:Instrumentation and recording data 13
Appendix 2:Biographies of Participating Composers 14
Contemporary Indonesian Music: Research and Documentation
In 1988-89, one of the authors (Diamond) undertook a national survey of Indonesian composers and their music, investigating composers creating new music for traditional instruments as well as western instruments. The second author (Polansky) acted as recording and research assistant during the year. The Indonesian research counterpart was I Wayan Sadra, composer, writer, and faculty member at STSI Surakarta. The research was designed as preparation for a book on Indonesian composers and contemporary music, to be told in the composers own words (from interviews) as well as documentation such as scores, photographs and video recordings. Therefore, a major component of the research methodology was interviews with Indonesian composers, covering each composers background, compositional process, musical ideas, and views about the current social context for new music in Indonesia. In addition, throughout the year, the authors made several commissions to composers like Sutanto, I Wayan Sadra, and others, and made high-quality field recordings and videos of these performances.
During the course of interviews with composers throughout Indonesia, a commonly repeated theme was that there was not enough opportunity for the composition of "pure music." One question that was often asked in interviews was "What are some of the difficulties associated with new or experimental composition?" The answers frequently pointed to lack of funds and opportunityfunds to cover rehearsal and recording costs, and opportunity to be invited to do new pieces that would stand alone as music for its own sake. These quotes give an idea of some of the composers thoughts and experience:
Nano S., Bandung, West Java
If a producer asks me to do a cassette, I will agree to do a fast popular piece for the title cut, but I try to insist that a more difficult piece be included, like a totally instrumental piece without vocal or even reference to a vocal melody. But these pieces dont sell well, [partly] because the producers themselves arent brave enough to record them, saying "nobody will buy this, its terlalu nyeni (too "arty".) There are several of my pieces that couldnt be distributed because the cassette producer didnt want them. ... If I am financially successful in the business world of pop music, it doesnt mean that I am a hypocrite. I have to fill two pockets, one for my family, and one for my art, my "second wife." (Diamond, 1989a)
I Wayan Sadra, Surakarta, Central Java.
"What we call process, even in the traditional arts, has undergone a shift. Every meeting of the Pekan Komponis can be considered a test for the individual to grasp and give full reign to his freedom. In our own regions we can see the impact of the Pekan Komponis attitude on dance and theater accompaniment, even though it is not quite as experimental as what we see at the Pekan Komponis itself. But even with this influence, concerts of pure music are still extremely rare." (Sadra, 1991)
Ajizar, Padang Panjang, West Sumatra.
"The problem with making new compositions is funds, because one performance is costly. If we are invited to perform a piece in Jakarta [at the Pekan Komponis], then we can prepare it and perform it there, but usually after that it is lost. At best there may be some documentation. If we do music for a dance, and that dance becomes popular with the public (especially if it is not too long), then there is a better chance that it will be performed often, invited to various festivals, or even broadcast on television. Even so, once the students who know the dance and music graduate from A.S.K.I., it can be lost without a generation to continue it." (Diamond, 1989b).
As the research progressed, it became clear that a series of high-quality audio recordings was an essential goal, both to increase public knowledge (both domestic and foreign) of new Indonesian music and as an appropriate companion for the book planned by Diamond.
Even though Indonesia now has a long and vital history of experimental music, there are considerable difficulties in getting to know the music itself. Pieces that have already been done are either not very well documented, or difficult to re-perform. Many pieces are player-specific, or situation-specific once performed, it is unlikely that a future performance, should it occur at all, would be a duplication of the earlier work. Diamond questioned several composers about the feasibility of re-performing some of their work, in order to make better quality recordings as documentation. Many of them, including Wayan Sadra and Pande Made Sukerta, said that re-mounting an old piece might even be more work than just doing a new one. Many composers also stressed that they had ideas for new pieces, but lacked opportunity (both in terms of performance and budget) to realize them. Commissions were more common for music intended for dance or theater accompaniment than "pure" music, what Nano S. called musik total or musik murni (Diamond, 1989a).
Collaboration as an Essential Component of Cross-Cultural Research
The design of the survey took into consideration the authors concern that research activities should benefit those being investigated as well as contributing to the knowledge of the investigator. This concept is reflected in much of the recent progressive thinking in anthropology and ethnomusicology, and the authors view it as an important and exciting, as well as necessary, component of cross-cultural methodological theory at the present. In other words, an important motivation for engaging these composers in a collaborative project was the search for a new model of fieldwork in which mutual benefit is attained on both sides.
Earlier models of cross-cultural research often resulted in "farmed" data, which was returned to the host country, analyzed, and made appropriately palatable for the foreign academic audience. The function of this kind of research was not mutual benefit nor the sharing of data, although the paying of money to informants and teachers was certainly economically beneficial. Rather, it treated the informant (a somewhat objectionable term) or the native (not only objectionable, but somewhat vague) as objects to be reported on solely for the benefit of the researchers knowledge and subsequent academic brokering of that knowledge. This was true, ironically, even if the researcher had established close personal (and sometimes intimate) ties with the "informant."
Rather than seeing contemporary music in Indonesia as a closed system, one which could only be observed and not affected or influenced by the researcher from "outside", we chose to respond in ways that might possibly enrich the field of contemporary and experimental music in general. As composers, we were sympathetic to the frustrations of Indonesian composers. With some research funds and other sources, we had the means to alleviate and respond to some of these frustrations, albeit temporarily and in a small way. In commissioning the recordings described below, we intentionally assumed less control over the music than would a record producer, for example, who often tries to determine what will sell and asks for it. We were merely extending the benefits of our countrys economy and research structure to those whose country did not provide as much opportunity for support of experimental works.
In anthropology, the discipline often looked to as an archetype for cross-cultural research, there is an increasing interest in replacing the uninformed "other" with an informed partner whose needs are equally valid in the research design equation. In this vein, we tried to ask ourselves some of the following questions:
¥What did we want to accomplish with our Indonesian composer colleagues?
*What did they want and need from us?
* How could our collaboration be of interest and assistance to them?
* How could our activities be mutually beneficial?
* How could we support new music in Indonesia without disregarding its own character or imposing our own values? Which of these "imposed" values might actually be or become shared values?
Clifford (1988), Diamond (1990) and others have discussed the need for a research paradigm not based on the assumptions of colonialism. This commissioning project, and much of the work the authors have done since returning from Indonesia, has been an effort to forge a different kind of relationship with the "natives" ; not researcher and informant, but one of counterparts, where both parties are "participant observers" in each other's process.
Some of the more important assumptions of this new paradigm that we tried to implement in Indonesia might be simply stated as:
* the researcher's goals are clearly understood by the people being researched (a mandate for the researcher to explain it fully)
*a need for benefit on both sides
* a right to shared data on both sides
* a respect for the propriety of identity on both sides, where appropriate and/or desired
How were these values applied?
Philosophically, we were clear that our relationships with the participating composers, and others with whom we worked, would be founded on these ideas. The challenge of the practical implementation of these values remained to be forged. We decided upon a contractual format for the commissions that would, we hoped, reflect our goals for the project: to treat the Indonesian composers in very much the same way as we would treat composers in our own country in a similar project. This included explaining concepts and procedures that are complicated and obscure to even many American composers (like BMI royalties), which we considered an educational aspect of our roles as producer. It was also gratifying and enjoyable to increase the likelihood of these composers receiving additional economic reward from their work beyond the actual commission.
The contracts stated that each composer would:
* have complete musical freedom in the composition and performance of the piece, restricted only by duration, practicalities of the studio, and budget
* have complete budgetary freedom with the funds allotted for their piece
* receive funds for their piece equal to others in the project, without regard to status or experience (with certain exceptions for transportation and other contingencies)
* be registered, and have each piece registered with B.M.I., in order to earn performance royalties from broadcasts or performances in countries honoring performance rights
* receive a high quality copy of the recording, in the format they wished, with no restrictions as to their use of it
* receive assurance that in the design and production of any products resulting from the project, the main priority would be respect for composer's artistic integrity, and that in addition, all performers, composers and engineers would be named
* receive royalties from sales of any final product, commensurate with typical royalties from this type of project
* sign, along with each player, a contract informing them of the intended use of the recordings and giving us permission to seek distribution opportunities (with proper consideration of artistic integrity, royalties, and credits)
In short, the goal was to produce high quality recordings of new works by Indonesian composers, in which the composers would have absolute freedom in determining the musical and aesthetic aspects of the piece, and to have the composers and players fully aware of our motivations and intentions to seek opportunities for international distribution of the recordings.
We selected the composers to be commissioned on the basis of four simple and flexible criteria. We were interested in composers:
1) from different regions of the country
2) whose work had clearly had an impact on the evolution of experimental and new music
3) who had expressed some desire for an unrestricted recording opportunity
4) whose work we knew and liked
(representing varied regions of the country) was the most difficult
to satisfy, for purely practical reasons. Archival and interview work
had been concentrated in five main areas: Central Java (Solo and
Yogya), Bandung, West Sumatra, North Sumatra, Bali, and Jakarta. A
few composers had been identified in Sulawesi, and one had been
interviewed by mail. Because this commissioning project needed to be
done rather quickly with limited funds at the end of our stay in
Indonesia, and because of the difficulty in communicating and
travelling quickly from one part of the country to the other, we
decided to do the recordings in two very active areas only: Bandung
and Central Java (Solo/Yogya).
We argued (to
ourselves, at least) that omitting composers from Bali and Jakarta
was somewhat justified. Balinese composers, especially in Denpasar,
seemed to have far more opportunities to record their recent pieces
than anywhere else in Indonesia. For example, I Nyoman Windha's work,
recorded by Bali Stereo just a few weeks after its premiere at the
Pekan Komponis in Jakarta, and was the only piece from that festival
recorded commercially. There were a great many cassette recordings
available of the music of the Balinese composers we had interviewed,
including Wayan Rai, Wayan Suweca, Nyoman Windha, Komang Astita. The
cassette-buying public, whether Balinese or foreign, is evidently
more open to experiments in music than consumers in other regions of
Indonesia. Composers from Jakarta, like Tony Prabawa, Trisutji Kamal,
or Slamet Syukur, also tended to have more opportunity for recording
their work, whether independently, or through their work with film,
theater, and dance. This is not to say that there is not a great
(even urgent) need to record the works of composers from these areas,
but rather that, combined with travel and budgetary restrictions, the
recording situation for new music in these areas seemed
than in Central Java and Bandung.
Sumatra was a
completely different story. The fertile and interesting activity of
experimental music in and around Padang Panjang and Medan, two areas
we had visited and worked in, has very little representation in terms
of high quality recording. We would have very much liked to produce
studio recordings of the works of, for example, Ajizar, Elizar, Mahdi
Bahar, Ben Pasaribu, and Rizaldi Siagian, to complement many of the
archival and informal recordings already collected of these
composer's works. Although it was simply too expensive too travel and
arrange this third site for our commissioning project, we hoped (and
still hope) this kind of work will be continued in
(composers whose work had had an
impact) was relatively easy to satisfy, and it became obvious
throughout the course of the year which composers were consistently
referred to, quoted, and regarded as significant by other artists.
For example, the work of Nano S. in West Java was clearly an artistic
and conceptual model for many composers in that region. In fact, two
of the other composers we recorded in Bandung (Dody Satya
Ekagustdiman, and Suhendi Afryanto) were Nano's students and
frequently performed with him. Pande Made Sukerta, in Solo, had been
the primary composition teacher at STSI Surakarta for some time, and
his ideas, teaching techniques, and pieces had profoundly influenced
the direction of experimental music in Central Java, as had the
radical and visionary ideas of fellow faculty member I Wayan Sadra. The dhalang
and composer B. Subono, through his significant innovations in new
music for wayang and orchestrational ideas, was also a logical choice
for inclusion. Of course there are many other composers who also had
had tremendous impact, for example: Sri Hastanto, Rahayu Supanggah,
F. X. Subanto and others in Solo, and Gugum Gumbira and Tatang Suyana
in Bandung. The composers we recorded were not chosen over these other composers.
After a certain point the final selections were based to some extent
on the schedules and availability of composers at the time we needed
(composers who had expressed an interest in recording music without
restrictions) was more salient for certain composers than others. For
instance, our friendships with and knowledge of the music of Nano S.
and I Wayan Sadra had made it clear that both had many musical ideas
which so far had not had the opportunity to be realized. Nano S. had
expressed an interest in recording some of his music which had no
vocal component. There were almost no reasonable quality recordings
of Sadra's music at all, especially unfortunate considering the scope
and quality of his output. These two composers were clearly
interested in a project of this sort. In all of the other cases, the
composers understood the motivation for the project, were anxious to
participate, and often already had ideas for the pieces they wanted
Criteria #4 (composers whose work we knew and liked) was perhaps the easiest to satisfy: after a year in Indonesia interviewing and getting to know the work of every "composer" we could find, we found ourselves with an embarrassment of riches. Practically everyone we had interviewed (some 60 composers) met this criteria.
Structure of the Recording Project
It was somewhat inevitable that we chose to do this project just before we left Indonesia. First, we were extremely busy throughout the year travelling, seeking out and interviewing composers, producing informal recordings of their work, and in general archiving their work in as many ways as possible. It took us the entire year to even identify who many of the composers were, and like painting the Golden Gate bridge, once we were finished it was clearly time to start over again! Second, our perception of the need for this project became more and more salient the longer we were there, and the more we talked to composers. We felt, to some extent, a sense of mild panic at the thought of leaving Indonesia (at least for the time being) without studio quality recordings of the works of some of the composers we had spent so much time with. Since we were planning to be a bridge between these composers and the people not yet familiar with their work, it seemed clear that having good quality examples of their work would be a necessary resource. And here, "good quality" was the operative condition.
Having spent all
of our funds (and then some) on the interviewing and archiving
project over the course of the year, our financial resources were
limited by the time we undertook this project. In addition, because
we were scheduled to leave the country at a certain date, there was a
small time window in which we could actually produce the recording
sessions themselves.We decided to co-produce the recordings with two
small publishing and distribution collectives that we direct:
Music (A Composers' Collective) and American Gamelan Institute.
these small enterprises offered immediate and effective international
distribution outlets for the works of Indonesian composers, and in
addition, offered a small amount of financial assistance to help the
The selection of
recording studios was simple. We had chosen Bandung and Solo as the
two cities for the recordings, since the largest concentration of
composers with who we were familiar lived in those artistic centers.
Taking their experience and local conditions into account, it seemed
obvious that Lokananta in Solo and Jugala in Bandung would be ideal
places to record. The American Gamelan Institute already had a
working relationship with Lokananta and the staff there were excited
and extremely cooperative when we met with them and outlined the
projects. The role of the Jugala studios in the development of
Sundanese music is so significant that we were very excited to work
in collaboration with them. Since the composers we were planning on
recording in Bandung had a long-standing relationship with that
studio, it was a clear choice. The engineer there, Basuki Leksobowo,
was tremendously sensitive to the works of these musicians with whom
he had worked so many times.
Our arrangements with the composers were as straightforward as possible. When each composer was asked to participate, we made it clear that the choice of the piece to record was theirs, with just a few restrictions. The total duration of the music to be recorded needed to be about 15 minutes. This was partly motivated by a very tight schedule (we recorded all the pieces in both cities in one night each), and partly by the fact that both studios used reel-to-reel tape recorders, which, running at 30 i.p.s, had a time restriction of 15 minutes per tape. Originally, we had decided to record direct to 2-track in both places, but we ended up overdubbing (at the composers' request) in Bandung.
restriction was financial. Since all composers and performers would
be paid (and fed), we simply split up the total money for the project
equally to each composer, and allowed them to budget it in any way
they chose. That is, the composers were responsible for paying their
own performers. Since the budget for the project was not huge,
several of the composers choose to work with small ensembles. In
certain cases we needed to pay transportation or additional costs,
and we tried to remain as flexible and fair as possible until the
project was completed. Needless to say, we went way over budget, but
we were committed to completing the recordings as much as possible to
One of the collaborative aspects of the project for us was to actually produce the sessions themselves, which meant supervising and to some extent engineering the recordings. In Solo, even though the Lokananta engineers, were quite experienced at recording traditional gamelan, and were clearly more knowledgeable in terms of microphone placement and levels for the instruments, Polansky took a more active role in the live mix, working with the composers to more clearly represent their ideas. For example, some of the characteristics of the Lokananta recording style (hard pans, added reverb, putting the voice far out front) were less appropriate in relation to some of the newer ideas the participating composers were working with. At Jugala, the authors took a less active role in the recording, mostly watching somewhat awestruck at the recording studio virtuosity of Nano S. and the other composers, as well as the obvious sensitivity and technical abilities of Basuki Leksobowo, the engineer. In addition, we documented the recording sessions with video and photographs.
In both cities, we involved local production assistants to help with scheduling, transportation, and other arrangements. In Solo, I Wayan Sadra was a tremendous aid in discussing and formulating the very nature of the project, and in selecting the composers. Askar Hendarsin served as the Lokananta liaison for the recordings, and his knowledge of the music and composers we were working with, as well as his expertise in the studio, was a tremendous asset. In Bandung, we asked Juju Musnah, an important choreographer and dancer and wife of the composer Dody Satya Ekagustdiman, to act as local coordinator for the project since we were not in Bandung prior to the actual recording. She (along with the indefatigable Nano S.) was invaluable in scheduling the recordings and making necessary arrangements for transportation, food, and so on.
Any large project
generates crises, and this one was no exception. Two days before the
sessions we were informed by both Lokananta and Jugala that some kind
of illegal stockpiling of fresh recording tape in Jakarta had
resulted in most of Indonesia being completely out of high quality
reel-to-reel tape (strangely enough, this was not the case in
Denpasar, we learned later). After a few phone calls to reliable
sources, we verified this to indeed be true! Although this seemed
like somewhat of an insoluble problem, the resourcefulness of our
collaborators proved invaluable. Nano S. was able to secure some
unused tape through a contact in the Sundanese television industry,
and we decided with Askar Hendarsin at Lokananta to simply bulk erase
some new, once-used tape at the last minute.
Our intention was
not to do any editing or remixing once we left Indonesia, since we
felt that the composers themselves should be the ones to supervise
the final musical project. We were reluctant to make any
about the pieces. One of the authors (Polansky), it should be pointed
out, is not in any way an ethnomusicologist, and had no "scholarly"
intent in this project, simply a collaborative one similar to his
work with many composers in his own country and elsewhere as editor,
publisher, collaborator, and producer. Both authors felt strongly
about allowing the commissioned composers complete musical autonomy,
and as such were not interested in any post-production of the
I Wayan Sadra: Stay a Maverick, Terus dan Terus
B. Subono: Griting Rasa
Pande Made Sukerta: Mana 689
Otok Bima Sidarta: Mubeng Beteng
Dody Satya Ekagustdiman: Diya
Nano S.: Galura, Jemplang Polansky
Suhendi Afryanto: Mbuh
Harry Rusli: Asmat Dream (recorded elsewhere)
The pieces that
resulted demonstrated the freedom of form, style and instrumentation
that the project intended to nurture and perpetuate. Each composer,
in a different way, took the opportunity to experiment or to realize
a long held idea. Some of the composers worked in their own
characteristic experimental style; while the particular piece they
made might not have been particularly new in terms of their own
creative evolution, the recording opportunity was. Others used the
opportunity to record something that they had already worked on, but
had not yet an opportunity to document adequately.
Many of the pieces in the project have since been broadcast on several radio programs in the U.S. and Canada, and are currently in production for release on CD. One of the pieces, Stay a Maverick by Wayan Sadra, will appear on the first Leonardo Music Journal CD series.
Sadra's Stay a Maverick (originally titled
the composer's frequent works for ensembles of musicians from all
over Indonesia. It included Sundanese, Balinese, and Javanese
musicians, and made extensive use of mixing the tunings of
slendro/pelog on gender, as well as the first use of some of the
extended orchestrational possibilities of gamelan Lipur Sih, designed and built by
Tentrem Sarwanto for the authors. At the last minute, Sadra decided
to involve one of the authors (Diamond) in the work, asking her to
not attend rehearsal, but to choose an English text from a newspaper
the day of the recording (hence the title, from an interview with
Stephen Sondheim in the International Herald
Diamond was then asked to sing the text spontaneously in a casual
rhythmic and melodic relationship to the gamelan. Sadra's second
work, Terus dan Terus, [see illustration] might
be called a conceptual work for two drummers from different cultures.
It evolved during the rehearsal process from an element of the other
piece to become a work of its own. The graphic score instructs the
musicians to play until they can't play any more, and suggests ideas
for improvisation. In the recording, Sadra performed on a Balinese
drum with a second drummer from Java, and the duration of the
recording was determined solely by the amount of tape available.
now been performed several times in the United States with drummers
in the styles of Java, Sunda, Bali and the Middle East
(dumbek), including performances in New
York and California, and the score itself will be the cover of the
first issue of the Leonardo Music
an orchestrational experiment in which the composer had long been
interested. Subono "wrote" for a small chamber ensemble of high
pitched instruments from the standard gamelan ensemble: bonang
panerus, saron panerus, and gender panerus played with hard mallets,
as well as suling and voice. He combined innovative musical ideas
with dramatic texts, in Javanese for one section, and in Indonesian
for the other. The high pitch range of all the instruments made a
striking effect, and required exceedingly tightly coordinated
ensemble playing. Subono, who as a dhalang has an particularly
powerful voice, performed some of the vocal parts himself while also
playing the bonang panerus, simply turning his head so the voice
"track" would appear through the designated microphone.
Sukerta, well known for his explorational
approach to sound sources, radical methods of teaching composition,
and free orchestrational arrangements, took this opportunity to
create Mana 689 (as in many of his titles, the date
is incorporated). The style of this piece is illustrative of the
ideas used in his composition classes at STSI Surakarta, as well as
some of the works he has performed at the Pekan Komponis (see Harjana
1986) and elsewhere. Like some of his other pieces during that
season, the orchestration included a Hindu chant, combined with
improvisation on unusual sound sources (pebbles in bottles,
thundersheets, his own children laughing, and so on). Sukerta
arranged the piece during the recording sessions, visually cueing
each musicians entry, so each take is somewhat different. For
this piece (and the work of Sadra as well), the chance of a
commercially released recording in Indonesia would be slim to
impossible. This project afforded Sukerta an opportunity to obtain a
high-quality recording of his most experimental style.
Beteng used a large Central Javanese
gamelan with the additional of small hand-held percussion
instruments. Some of the hanging gongs were laid horizontally on
floor mats, and played on the boss to produce a damped sound. Otok's
own ensemble of young, gifted musicians, whom he had performed with
and written for many times, was the only ensemble in the project that
had rehearsed together for an extended period of time and had a
developed repertoire. Mubeng Beteng made use of a number of
contemporary gamelan techniques as well as a musical theme with
sounds representing shots and sirens representative of the "circling
of the ramparts," a nightly ritual in Yogyakarta when groups of night
guards circumnavigate the walls of the Kraton, passing the four corner
recorded two pieces: one that he had already composed but had not
(and possibly could not) record commercially, and another newly
created in response to this project. One of the the most important
aspects of the project for him was the opportunity for a high quality
recording of his "musik murni" or pure instrumental
music. Galura, a piece for solo kacapi, was
clearly a piece close to his heart, and had not yet met with the
approval of a commercial producer. The second piece, Jemplang
was, in Nano's words, an attempt to respond to some of
Polanskys computer generated music, which Nano considered
strange (and, we hope, intriguing). In Jemplang Polansky, Nano made extensive and
virtuosic use of the multi-track recording studio, overdubbing many
of the parts on different instruments, skillfully repeating certain
elements while adding and subtracting others.
Ekagustdiman's Diya was essentially a reorchestration
and slight restructuring of a piece he had done at A.S.T.I. Bandung
as his final composition project. It made use of a great number of
performers, which presented a tremendous challenge to the physical
limitations of the relatively small Jugala Studio. For this piece,
Dody and Bazuki filled every isolation room in the studio (all the
musicians wore headphones!), and even invented a few. Dody's work was
in the kind of episodic form that is often said to characterize much
of the music that has emerged from early experimental compositions at
STSI Surakarta: composed of many highly contrasting sections, each
centered around some specific textual, musical or orchestrational
idea. This piece made especially interesting orchestrational use of
sandpaper, a flexotone (a specific request to Polansky before a trip
to Singapore), several hand-made iron saron, drums with rubber heads,
multi-tracked chorus (which became even more dense when a dub-over
failed and was eventually deemed preferable), and some striking
passages for multiple kacapi in varied tunings.
Afryanto's Mbuh was a chance for this young
composer, a musician and drummer trained in the traditions of
Cirebon, to record an experimental piece and move himself more
seriously into the realm of composition. The work features a small,
versatile ensemble of gamelan instruments and noise makers, and makes
use of voices and drums in highly unusual ways. One of the most
interesting aspects of Mbuh was its extensive use of quiet
textures and silences, something we had not heard a great deal of in
much of the music that year. He drew on his knowledge of Sundanese
instruments like rebab, combined drums from many regions into a
single texture, and cleverly mixed the noisemakers with unexpected
events on a Javanese gender.
not recorded during this project, but Rusli was one of the composers
with whom we had an extremely close and fertile relationship, and we
very much wanted him to be part of our "outreach" efforts once we
left Indonesia. He was not in town at the time of the recording
session, so we arranged to use a piece he had recorded himself. This
still posed a difficulty, since most of his current work was either
multi-media events that would be better represented by video than
audio recordings, or music that was meant to accompany a specific
theater piece and was usually composed simultaneously with the
performance from a platform full of instruments and electronics set
up at the side of the stage. Fortunately, Rusli was able to
contribute a high-quality reel-to-reel recording of Asmat Dream,
electronic tape work making use of samples and voices from Irian
Jaya, with some subtle tape effects. The piece had resulted from
Rusli's work with Asmat musicians during a tour in Europe and had
been recorded there.
Trends and Continuity
The ideas of counterpart research, mutual benefit, and cross-cultural collaboration are both powerful and timely. This project is one example of these ideas put into practice. Fortunately this project has already inspired similar ventures. The Pacific Rim research team of the University of California began a very similar commissioning project modelled on this one the year after Diamond, Polansky and Sadra made a detailed presentation on this project at a plenary conference in Bali.
There is further evidence of a significant trend in the commissioning of new works from composers "in the field." The Friends of the Gamelan in Chicago commissioned a piece from Al. Suwardi of Solo. Sekar Jaya, the well-known independent Balinese gamelan group in El Cerrito, has just released a recording in which many of the pieces had been composed specifically for them by their resident Balinese teachers. When Nano S. was in residence at the University of California at Santa Cruz, he both created new pieces and tailored existing ones specifically for the dedicated group of performers who worked with him there. Widiyanto, teacher and guiding spirit of groups all along the West Coast of the U.S., has composed many pieces for his students, whether for wayang or for concert presentation, often working in collaboration with American composers like Lou Harrison. And of course, any list of this type must include K.R.T. Wasitodiningrat, one of Indonesias most venerable and innovative composers and musicians, who has introduced to his foreign audiences not only Gambirsawit, but Sopir Becak, Ladrang Duporo and Lagu Freeway as well.
The search for
ways to interact with our Indonesian counterparts has continued since
the authors returned to the U.S. in 1989. An outstanding opportunity
recently emerged, when, in conjunction with the Festival of
Indonesias "New Music Indonesia" tour group, the National
Endowment for the Arts International Projects program agreed to fund
creative residences in the U.S. for three Indonesian composers. These
artists will work with groups in this country performing new music
for gamelan and other instruments, including computer-based
electronics. This project was proposed by Polansky and Diamond (the
project director) through the Festival of Indonesia, with the
invaluable collaboration of Rachel Cooper, and will be administered
by the American Gamelan Institute.
Under the N.E.A.
program, three composers will each spend six weeks with an
institution or ensemble, composing a new work for their specific
resources. The three composers and their residency sites will be:
Supanggah in New York City with Gamelan Son of
Lion and the Downtown Ensemble (Western instrumentalists specializing
in improvisation); I Wayan Sadra at Dartmouth College in
New Hampshire, working in the Bregman Electro-Acoustic Music Studio
and with the Dartmouth Gamelan Orchestra Lipur Sih, and Antonius Wahyudi Sutrisno (Dedek)
Seattle, with Gamelan Pacifica at the Cornish Institute of the
project, as well as several others, are a direct result of Diamond's
research, this commissioning project and the ideas inherent in their
structure and realization. These events and other like them will, we
hope, contribute to an awareness that counterparts can make music as well as
"informants". The choice is not whether to make changes in the world
or to observe it, but how to participate in the changes that will
take place, inevitably, as human beings continue to create and our
music continues to evolve.
Appendix 1:Instrumentation and recording data
PN Lokananta Studios
21 July 1989
I Wayan Sadra: Stay a Maverick, for 12 key saron, suling, 3 gender, slentem, kenong, suling gambuh, gong kemodong, kecapi, kemanak; players: Sadra, Al. Sunardi, Lumbini Trihasto, I Nengah Mulyana, Rasita Satriana. Terus dan Terus, for two drummers (Java and Bali) and drone instruments (kecapi); players: Sadra, Lumbini, Rasita, Sunardi.
B. Subono: Griting Rasa for high-pitched gamelan instruments (2 bonang panerus, saron panerus, gender panerus played with Balinese mallets, suling, voice); players: Subono, I Nyoman Murtana, Sunarto, Joko Santosa, I Wayan Sadra.
Pande Made Sukerta: Mana 689 for vocal mantra, bamboo gong, kendang, sruling [sic], terbang, rebana, kecapi, tin sheet, marbles, glass bottles, children's voices, saluang, bedug; players: I Gede Pujo, I Nyoman Murtana, Sunardi, I Nengah Muliana, Cucup Cahpipar, I Ketut Saba, Pande Made Sukerta, Nyoman Angkus Pramana Suara, Ketut Gura Arta Laras, Rafiloza.
Otok Bima Sidarta: Mubeng Beteng (Circling the Ramparts) for Javanese gamelan and percussion instruments; players: Otok Bima Sidarta, Suharjono, Pardiman, Purwanto, Raharjo, Sukoco, Sutrisno, Sugeng Surono, B. Suranto, Wariman, Suyanto.
Studio Personnel: Larry Polansky, recording engineer and supervisor; R. Hardoyo, director of recording; A. Agus Satriyo, engineer; Suparmin, Sugiyarto, 2nd engineers; Askar Hendarsin, engineer.
21 June 1989
Dody Satya Ekagusdiman: Diya, for several kecapi, original instruments, voices, genta (bell), suling, 3 iron saron, triangle, amplas, tin cans, glass bottles, plastic visor of motorcycle helment, penclon balik (turned over), 5 woks; players: Dody, Ismet Ruchimat, Agus Sukmana, Dinda S.U. Budhi, Didi Wiardi, Yaya Suryadi.
Nano S.: Galura, for kecapi (other versions for 2 kecapi and suling); players: Nano S., Gatot Winandar, Ade Achmad Suandi. Jemplang Polansky, for kecapi, rincik, kendang, suling, karinding, kulanter, saron, 3 kendang, 2 bamboo keprak, bonang; players: Gatot Winandar, Oga Wilantara, Dodong Kodir, H. Ganjar Ahdiat, Nano S.
Suhendi Afryanto: Mbuh for kulanter, bedug, kendang, panembung, vocal, slentem, gender, tiktak (castanets), persussion, noisemakers, rebab, gong, bangsing (suling fom Cirebon); players: Suhendi Afryanto, Dian Anggraeni, Nandang Sutardi, Ojang Cahyadi, Dadi Landi.
Harry Rusli: Asmat Dream (recorded elsewhere)
Studio personnel: Basuki Leksobowo, sound engineer; Ceppy A. Ryana, recording engineer (2nd engineer); Juju Musnah, production coordinator.
Appendix 2Biographies of Participating Composers
Suhendi Afryanto, born July 23, 1962, in Bandung, West Java. He grew up in Cirebon, and specialized in music for wayang and drumming. He began composing in 1983, for a theater group in Bandung, and continues to be active as a composer for dance, film, and music festivals. He graduated from A.S.T.I. Bandung and joined the faculty in 1986, teaching ethnomusicology, acoustics, composition and traditional Sundanese music. He frequently writes for local newspapers on arts-related topics.
Dody Satya Ekagustdiman, born August 1, 1961 in Bandung, West Java. He started playing gamelan at the age of five, encouraged by his father, the musician and composer Tatang Suryana. At the high school conservatory in Bandung, he studied with Mang Koko and Nano S. His first compostion in 1986 was an accompaniment for a dance by the choreographer Juju Musnah, now his wife and frequent collaborator. Recently, he studied music in West Germany with Deiter Mack. He received a degree from STSI Surakarta, and is currently on the faculty at A.S.T.I. Bandung, teaching composition, the repetoire of Mang Koko and kecapi.
Nano S. (aka Nano Suratno), born April 4, 1944 in Pasar Kemis Tarogong Garut, West Java. He was involved in the Sundanese arts from an early age, and was a student and prodigy of the late composer Mang Koko. He has degrees from the high school and college conservatories in Bandung, S.M.K.I. and A.S.T.I., aas well as from STSI Surakarta. He and his wife, the singer Dheniarsih, often present performances for foreign visitors at the tradtional outdoor stage built next to their home in Bandung. He is a prolific pop and classical composer with over 200 cassettes in circulation and many of his songs performed by popular singers on video and tape. Nano currently teaches at the high school conservatory in Bandung, S.M.K.I., and has also taught abroad in Japan and the U.S.A.
Harry Rusli, born September 10, 1952 in Bandung, West Java. His father was a doctor, and his grandmother was the well-known novelist Mara Rusli. His first composition at the age of 13 was for guitar. He studied music in Jakarta with Slamet Syukur and Frans Haryadi, percussion and electronics in The Netherlands, and has been greatly influenced by the writings and music of John Cage. He is active as a composer for large multi-media works and for theater, working with playwrights such as Putu Wijaya. His compostions have been played in The Netherlands, New Zealand and Japan. He currently teaches in the music department at I.K.I.P. Bandung, and writes a music column for a popular youth magazine in Jakarta.
I Wayan Sadra, born August 1, 1953 in Denpasar, Bali. He graduated from the high school conservatory in Denpasar, and then moved to Jakarta, to study painting and teach Balinese music at I.K.J. (Jakarta Arts Institute). Subsequently finished a degree and joined the faculty at STSI Surakarta, where he now teaches compostion, music criticism, and Balinese music, and recently completed a research paper on the work of Balinese composer and instrument maker I Wayan Beratha. He has toured abroad as both composer and musician, and was recently awared the new Horizons Award for artisitc innovation by the International Society for Arts, Sciences and Technology.
Blacius Subono, born February 3, 1954 in Klaten, Central Java, the seventh of nine children of the dhalang (shadow puppet master) Yusuf Kiyatdiharjo, all of whom became successful artists. Since early childhood, he has been responsible for many innovations in wayang and wayang music, such as Wayang Kancil and the music for the innovative Wayang Sandosa. He is presently on the faculty of STSI Surakarta in the Pedhalangan (Puppet Theater) Department, and also active as an independent dhalang and composer with his own group of musicians.
Pande Made Sukerta born in 1953 in Tekakula, Singaraja, Bali. He graduated from the high school music conservatory in Denpasar, S.M.K.I., and enrolled at A.S.K.I. Surakarta (now STSI) where he is currently on the faculty teaching composition and Balinese music, on which he has written several books and major papers. He has performed as a composer and musician at the Pekan Komponis in Jakarta and abroad in several countries.
Otok Bima Sidarta, born May 18, 1960 inYogykarta, Central Java. His father, Bagong Kussudiarja, is one of Indonesias most famous choreographers and painters; his brother is the composer Djaduk Ferianto. Sidarta founded PLK (Pusat Latihan Karawitan) Music Study Center, where he encourages younger musicians to experiment with both performance techniques and notational systems. He founded the Lomba Komposisi (Composition Competition) in Yogyakarta, and is currently active as a composer, teacher, dancer, painter and journalist.