Tag Archives: Indonesian music

Exploratory Earthscapes from Indonesia

Senyawa – Sujud

Senyawa – Sujud (Sublime Frequencies, 2018)

It’s hard to describe the music of Indonesian group Senyawa. The duo makes experimental music that crosses various musical boundaries. Singer Rully Shabara uses various forms of vocals, ranging from shamanic throat sounds to whispered lyrics in various layers. Multi-instrumentalist Wukir Suryadi plays a wide range of musical instruments that include conventional ones as well as homemade devices.

Indonesian folk traditions are interweaved with sound effects, drones, some zany vocals and occasional distorted rock riffs known as folk metal. The moods shift from dreamy and earthy to unexpected vocal segments.

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Artist Profiles: I.M. Harjito

I.M. Harjito

I.M. Harjito, the Gamelan Kusuma Laras (“Flowering Harmony”) artistic director, is one of the finest Javanese musicians practicing today. He is a graduate of Indonesia’s state conservatory for the traditional performing arts, where he worked closely with one of the major figures of 20th-century Javanese music, R. Ng. Martopangrawit.

Harjito has directed gamelan ensembles in Indonesia, the United States, Canada, and Australia. He is also a composer of traditional and innovative works for gamelan and other instruments.

For the past three decades he has been a faculty member at Wesleyan University. Although he is a master of all the Javanese gamelan instruments, he is most famous for his superb rebab and gendèr playing.


Artist Profiles: Midiyanto


Midiyanto is a musician and puppet master (dhalang) from Wonogiri, Central Java, coming from a family of artists. Over the last 30 years he has taught and performed extensively in Java, the US, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, including 10 years in Portland as the gamelan director at Lewis & Clark College.

He directed the gamelan on the Shadow Music of Java CD, recorded at the Smithsonian, and has been featured in several documentaries. He has taught and directed gamelan at UC Berkeley since 2004, after an earlier stint there from 1988 to 1992.


Artist Profiles: Heni Savitri

Heni Savitri

Heni Savitri began to study sindhènan (Javanese singing with gamelan) in 2002. In 2003, she won the competition for best singer in her native district of Wonogiri, Central Java. She entered the Performing Arts Conservatory in Surakarta in 2004, and began representing the institution in competitions the following year as well as performing in shadow plays.

Upon enrolling in Indonesia’s state conservatory for the traditional performing arts in Surakarta, she was selected as the singer for many recordings of new faculty compositions and traditional works, representing the academy in the 2008 international vocal competition in Jakarta.


Artist Profiles: Krakatau

Founded in Bandung, West Java (Indonesia) in 1985, they made their international debut at the Yamaha Bands Explosion in Tokyo, Japan.

Their music is very distinctive as it uses an ancient Gamelan tonal system called s’lendro, found in Karawitan traditional music of Sunda, Java and Bali. Juxtaposed upon this, Krakatau adapts western diatonic elements which is energized by modern feels of jazz, rock and pop fused with various ethnic rhythms of Indonesian music.

Dwiki Dharmawan plays keyboards and synthesizers and is also one of the founding members of Krakatau; he was classically trained at a young age and winner of the Grand Prix in Japan in 1985. He is also conductor and composer of the Indonesian Art Orchestra, director of the Farabi Music Educational Centre in Jakarta and Chairman of Jakarta World Music Festival 2003.

Pra Budidharma graduated from Seattle, USA and plays guitar and bass while working as a producer specializing in recordings for West Javanese traditional music.

Main singer and dynamo of the group, Trie Utami, has won awards in Romania and Kuala Lumpur.

Zainal Arifin uses bonangs and sarons of the gamelan family as well as many other percussion instruments.

Adhe Rudhiana and Gilang Ramadhan handles the gendangs and percussion while Yoyon Dharsono plays virtually any instrument handed to him.

One of them is the Sundanese tarompet, a double reed instrument which is a more brittle version of a clarinet. It is commonly associated with the traditional martial art known as pencak silat.

Another is the suling or bamboo flute that comes in different lengths, as well as the bangsing which is more popular in the city of Cirebon.


Krakatau (1986)
Krakatau (1987)
Kembali Satu (Bulletin Records, 1990)
Let There Be Life (1992)
Mystical Mist (Aquarius, 1994)
Magical Match (2000)
Rhythms Of Reformation – Percussion Pieces By Krakatau (Musikita, 2005)
2 Worlds (Musikita, 2006)
Chapter One album (DSS Records, 2016)

Indonesia Asi


Artist Profiles: Sambasunda


Samba Sunda is an Indonesian ensemble. The lineup varies from quintet to a 17-piece ensemble, bringing together a pan-Indonesian array of instruments and influences to create a new style Gamelan orchestra, throwing together anything from thundering percussion to shimmering sweet vocals with inimitable gusto. The classic sounds and shapes of the traditional instruments evoke not only the past but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today.

Sambasunda come from Bandung, the capital and cultural center of Western Java, more commonly known as Sunda. The Sundanese are the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia with a unique language and culture.

The group updates the lilting sounds of Sundanese gamelan degung and bamboo gamelan by adding elements of Jakarta’s gambang kromong, Sunda’s jaipong, Balinese kebyar and the Brazilian rhythm of samba.

The classic sounds of the traditional instruments evoke not only the past but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today, featuring a full sound palette from the deep resonance of the mighty gongs to the silvery eloquence of the bamboo flute. The result is a mesmerizing mix that manages, strangely, to be both relentlessly exciting and passively tranquil.

Sambasunda are led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Ismet Ruchimat, who started his career in 1989 in Gugum Gumbira’s famous Jugala Orchestra and has appeared on a number of international recording projects: with Spanish percussionist Vidal Paz (“Sunda-Africa”, Globestyle); Indian flutist, Hariprasad Chaurasia (“Moon Magic”, BMG India); the Malagasy group Tarika (“Soul Makassar”, Sakay); and on the Kartini label with Sabah Habas Mustapha & the Jugala Allstars (“Jalan Kopo” and “So La Li”).


Rahwana’s Cry (Network)
Java (Riverboat)
Sunda Music (Rice)


Artist Profiles: Saratus Persen

Saratus Persen

Saratus Persen was formed in 2001. “We combine a traditional music instruments such as Balinese gamelan (kantil & pamade), Sundanese flute & drum, African jembe, with modern music instruments, like drum set, electric bass, trombone, saxophone, trumpet, violin, bongo, rototom, timbales, etc.”

Musicians: Togar (Vocal, Kantil 1), Dodi (Kantil 2), Ricky (Violin, Kantil 2), Muklis (Pamade 1), Rosoul (Pamade 2), Saddam (Trumpet 1, Saxophone), Idam (Trumpet 2), Iwenk (Suling, jembe, Percussion), Asep (Bass), Diah (Trombone), Iman (Kendang), Ully (Drum), Ganjar (Timbales, Percussion)


Sundanese In Bali
Sound Of Orang Kampung