Jumat, 08 Februari 2008

Gamelan, the Javanese Orchestra

Gamelan is surely not a foreign music. It has been popular in most continents and has created new music integration, for example jazz-gamelan, has born institution as learning space and gamelan music expression and it has produced famous gamelan musicians. Gamelan music instrument can now be enjoyed in various parts of the world, but Yogyakarta is the right place to enjoy it since you can enjoy the original version of gamelan.

Gamelan that grows in Yogyakarta is Javanese gamelan, one form of gamelan that is different from Balinese gamelan or Sundanese gamelan. Javanese gamelan has softer and slower tones; it is different from Balinese gamelan that is very dynamic and Sundanese gamelan that is melodious with domination of the voice of seruling or traditional bamboo flute. The difference is just natural since Java has its own view of life that is expressed in its gamelan music melody.

The Javanese view of life that is expressed in its gamelan music is the harmony of physical and spiritual lives, harmony in talking as well as behaving in order not to create explosive expression and to realize people tolerance. The real form of harmony in Javanese gamelan music is the moderate play of rebab string, voice harmony of kenong, saron kendang and gambang and the voice of gong ate each closing of the melody.

There is no definite history of gamelan existence. The development of gamelan music is predicted to begin from the existence of kentongan, rebab, tap on the mouth, rubs on string and thin bamboo until the introduction of metal music instruments. Further development after named by gamelan, this music was used to accompany leather puppet show and dances. Later it became independent music and it was completed with voices of female singers called sinden.

A set of gamelan consists of several music instruments; some of them are drum called kendhang, rebab, and celempung, gambang, gong and bamboo flute or seruling. The main components composing the gamelan music instruments are bamboo, metal, and wood. Each of the instrument has its own function in a gamelan music show, for example the gong functioning to close the long music melodies and to give balance after the music was previously decorated by Javanese music melodies.

Javanese gamelan is music with pentatonic melodies. A complete gamelan play consists of two cycles, namely slendro and pelog. Slendro has 5 melodies per octave, namely 1 2 3 5 6 [C- D E+ G A] with small interval difference. Pelog has 7 melodies per octave namely 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [C+ D E- F# A B] with big interval difference. Gamelan music composition was created with some rules, namely consists of some cycles and pathet, confined by one gong and the melodies were created in a unit consisting of 4 melodies.

You can see gamelan as an independent music performance or a companion of a dance or performance arts such as leather puppet show and ketoprak. As an independent performance, gamelan music is usually combined with the voice of the Javanese singers (male singers are called wiraswara and female singers are called waranggana or sinden). Gamelan music performance can be classic or contemporary. One form of contemporary gamelan is jazz-gamelan as a combination of music with pentatonic and diatonic melodies.

One of the places in Yogyakarta where you can see gamelan performance is Yogyakarta Kingdom. On Thursdays from 10:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. gamelan is performed as an independent music performance. On Saturdays at the same hours, gamelan is performed as companion of leather puppet show, while on Sundays at the same hours, gamelan accompanies Javanese traditional dance. Please come to Bangsal Sri Manganti to see the performance. Meanwhile, in order to see older gamelan music instrument, you can go to other hall of the kingdom that is located a little further at the back.

source : YogYes.com

Sabtu, 02 Februari 2008

The Worldwide Gudeg Jogja

Gudeg is one of some special foods from Jogja. It is just like Sate (roasted beef in stick) from Madura and Pempek from Palembang, Gudeg Jogja has been well known in Indonesia, even in other countries. In Jogja, Gudeg has been widespread in almost every area, from the Gudeg center on Wijilan Street to other places.

A lot of cafes or small restaurants serve Gudeg with various tastes, surely the prices follows, especially at Wijilan Street. Besides tasting the Gudeg, we can find many kinds of special traditional handicraft.

Vendors of Gudeg usually attract the customers’ attention by making an attractive packaging named kendhil (a clay-made package). It does not only make the serving become more attractive but also makes the taste become more delicious. We can find the Gudeg Kendhil in almost every place which serves gudeg.

Gudeg is made from unripe jackfruit boiled with special spices and coconut milk (santan). The top and the bottom parts of the pan used to boil the spices and the coconut milk (santan) is covered with unripe Jati leaves. To get a perfect and delicious taste and color of the Gudeg, those ingredients are boiled all night. The Jati leaves are used to get an attractive color. The areh or sauce is made from coconut milk (santan), spices, and turmeric as the artificial color. It is poured on the ready-to-serve Gudeg. The Gudeg itself has a sweet taste.

Gudeg is usually served with warm rice, egg, chicken, ceker, tofu, tempe, chip, fried onion, etc. We can also serve a glass of tea, ice tea, orange juice, fresh water, etc for the beverages. It is not complete if we come to Jogja without tasting Gudeg.

Jumat, 01 Februari 2008

Kamis, 31 Januari 2008

Blangkon Craftsmen: Yogyakarta, Central Java

You can walk down the main street of Yogyakarta and buy one of the Javanese headdresses known as Blangkon off any one of the numerous kaki lima that have stalls along the road. The traditional Javanese batik headdress for men is worn at festivals, at weddings and on any important occasion.
But, finding a good quality Blangkon is harder than you think. At the end of Jl Jend A. Yani is located the Beringharjo Markets. It is here you will find a true craftsman of Blangkon as Bambang Muryanto explains:
Slamet Raharjo: Master ‘blangkon’ craftsman

Is there any connection between blangkon, the traditional Javanese batik headdress for men, and the dignity of Yogyakarta Palace?
If this question was addressed to blangkon maker Slamet Raharjo, he would probably answer that the king and the other male royal family members would ruin the image of the palace if they wore any blangkon sold at local markets.
Indeed, the blangkon that 61-year-old Slamet makes are no ordinary caps and cannot be found easily, even at Beringharjo, Yogyakarta’s biggest traditional market.
This is because they are handmade to order.
This also explains why the blangkon he produces are beautiful. They are beautiful because they are made of high-grade batik cloth; they are of high quality because they are custom-made according to a precise shape and design.
Slamet’s blangkon are not only comfortable to wear, but also make the wearer look more elegant.
It is therefore not surprising that Slamet’s customers are not just any customer — among them are the members of Yogyakarta’s royal family, including Sultan Hamengkubuwono X.
“It is usually Gusti Herjun who brings the order to me,” said Slamet, referring to the royal aide who delivers an order from the Sultan of Yogyakarta.
Another VIP customer is President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself, who recently ordered 60 Yogyakarta-style blangkon, including one for himself to wear to his son’s wedding.
“Pak SBY’s size was 59,” said Tugiyem, Slamet’s wife, referring to the Indonesian president by his acronymic nickname. “He chose the motif of klithik kemitir jumputan merah,” she recalled.
Former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, former education minister Fuad Hasan and former Jakarta governor Ali Sadikin are also among those public leaders who have ordered their blangkon from the master craftsman.
Other customers include several noted batik galleries in the historical city.
“We always order blangkon from Pak Slamet whenever we have distinguished guests who want a blangkon of good quality,” said Heru Purwanto of Mirota Batik.
Slamet’s success, of course, is not of the overnight variety. It took him nearly a lifetime to get to where he is presently.
Slamet said he inherited the skill to make high-quality blangkon from his father Notodihardjo, who was also a distinguished blangkon maker in his day.
Notodihardjo learned the craft from a close friend of his, Karto Thole, a blangkon maker who received orders from the royal family.
Karto trained Notodihardjo in the traditional craft because he was often overwhelmed by orders. In teaching Notodihardjo how to make a good blangkon, he could ask for help in meeting his numerous orders.
When Karto died, it was thus Notodihardjo who continued the business. Slamet said that he started trying to make blangkon when he was 27. Every time he finished making a blangkon, he showed it to his father for an evaluation.
“But back then, the blangkon I made were sold at market,” said Slamet, who has only completed elementary-level education. He added that he started receiving orders for custom-made caps only after he was considered to have mastered the expertise.
Making a blangkon, according to Slamet, is actually not so difficult. What is needed are simply diligence, care and concentration, along with the endurance to sit on the floor for hours.
Once they start making a blangkon, a craftsman is required to sit cross-legged on the floor. A wooden stand, locally known as klebut, is placed in front — this is where the blangkon being made is placed during the process.
After it is folded according to a specific pattern, or diwiru in Javanese, a batik cloth of 115 meters by 115 meters is glued on to a pattern, which is usually made of thick carton paper.
This part, which forms the outer shell of the blangkon, is then sewed on to the main structure, called congkeng, made of women dried pandanus leaves.
The size of the congkeng is made with precision to fit the head of the customer.
“Sewing the pattern to the congkeng is the most difficult part,” said Ratijo, the sole apprentice to Slamet at his house and workshop in Bugisan.
This particular stage in making a blangkon needs special expertise, as it must be executed so that the stitches are neat and fine, and are not visible on the outer shell of the cap. This determines the beauty of the finished blangkon.
In order to achieve these fine stitches, the blangkon maker typically utilizes a metal thimble to cover his fingers as he pushes the needle and thread through the congkeng as well as the carton-paper pattern.
Slamet has been in the blangkon-making business for 34 years, through which he has been able to support his family of six. At present, three of his four children are studying at university; his house, the walls of which were previously made of simple woven bamboo, are now of solid construction material.
“In 1999, I used the money from Gus Dur to mend the roof and the floor,” said Slamet. The former president had then ordered 115 Surakarta-style blangkon.
Slamet was also satisfied with his craft, because by continuing to make blangkon, he felt he was contributing to preserving the magnificence of the Javanese culture.
He said he could not imagine what would happen if high-quality blangkon were not worn in sacred ceremonies. It was also unfathomable to him that members of the royal family would wear blangkon of lesser quality during royal ceremonies.
It is indeed such thoughts that has prompted Slamet to transfer his skills and expertise to anyone serious about learning to make high-quality blangkon.
“If I do not transfer this expertise to the younger generation, it will be useless. There will be no blangkon of good quality anymore in the future.
“The image of the kraton (palace) as well as the royal family will simply be ruined if they wore just any old blangkon,” he said.
Slamet has already succeeded in creating a new generation of blangkon makers of his caliber. But his “throne“, he said, would go to his sole apprentice Rujito.
“(Rujito) has mastered everything that I have mastered,” said Slamet, the reigning master blangkon craftsman.
Bambang Muryanto – Contributor, Yogyakarta(Photo: Bambang Muryanto)