Gamelan and Wayang at U-M (Powerpoint presentation)

Javanese Arts at U-M
U-M is one of the few universities in
the U.S. to own a gamelan, an
ensemble of gongs from Java,
Gamelan is used for a variety of
purposes, but most often to
accompany dance and shadow
puppet performances.
Students at U-M can learn to play
the gamelan through courses in the
School of Music, Theater, and
Image: Walter Angst
Gamelan in the Sultan’s palace in Yogyakarta,
a city in Central Java
Classical Javanese Gamelan
Performance: Jineman
Jineman is a kind of musical composition which
uses a small ensemble of gamelan instruments.
The genre first appeared sometime in the 13th
century and is often performed as a transition
between the performance of more serious,
heavy music and more cheerful, lighter music.
There are dozens of compositions in the
Jineman repertoire. The two pieces below are
among the most popular Jineman in central
Jineman Lyric Translations
Uler Kambang
Kendang alit rikma paèsing wadana
resep, lir kenya kang sulistyèng warna
kèwes luwes, karya gemes, solahé amerak driya
Floating Caterpillar
A small drum, hair adorns the face
Charming, like a lovely girl
graceful and alluring, her ways draw the heart
heart full of love
Mumpung anom, mesu luhuring budaya,
seni lan agami, ngluhurken budi pekerti
ngèlmi tèknologi, kawruh iguh migunani, sami
njurung gesang murih gampang
dadi seniman kondang, nganglang sabrang ra sah utang
upami dadi mentri, ditanggung nora korupsi
While young, work to uplift your culture,
art and religion lift up character and good works
Science, technology, knowledge, effort are beneficial and
sustain our lives.
To be a famous musician means to travel the world on the
like a government minister, guaranteed not to become
Nadyan, panjak nabuh salah, nanging pacak tetep cakrak
grayah grayah owah owah, wekasane gawé bubrah, rak
ra nggenah
Though hitting the wrong notes, an artist still plays with style
groping, crazed, it falls apart in the end
you know he’s nuts
Taberia memangun lekas raharja
awya tindak cidra, ngajab sengsaraning liya,
muhung, sung tetulung, mulung mring bebrayan agung,
budaya dadya lantaran, rukuning bebrayan, guyub rukun
ndonya aman
sengsem, adem ayem, bagya mulya urip tentrem.
Be diligent and quick to do what’s right
don’t lie, or wish for others to suffer.
It’s better to offer help to the community
Come together
Make culture the source of harmony,
togetherness in harmony.
The world is safe
pleasing, refreshing, joyful, prosperous,
a life of peace.
Glathik Glindhing Bebrayatan
Gangsa nyundari araras,
Olah rasa bak surasa sa sa sa, lakutama ma ma ma,
Aji handayani, lungit hangrerawit, èdi pèni dèn pepetri.
Lirih nora ringkih, seru nora saru,
Ayu kuning, nggenuk kuthuk kuning
Bonang gambang, luk suling ngalengking,
Milang miling ngaliling, dumeling nggènya péling, mila lamun
Kalut luput mawut clingukan cacat keliwat
Gendhung gendhing nding, swara gandhang-ndang
Kondang kaonang, besus ngrebab bregas ngedhang,
Jer, nggarap seger ger, akal pinter ter, mikir èncèr,
Diteter nora keseser, mingar minger ra keblinger.
Wewaton wirid kang bener, nggendèr moncèr, njogèd ngleter,
Patrap lan pangucap katiti kanthi premati
Mrih bontos putus mring kawruh, temen tekun tekenipun.
Wiled gregel gel, luk è lulut lut, amemilut
Amemalat ati, gojeg gayeng guyub, luwes kèwes gawé gemes
Ndudut ati, tangèh rongèh, manteb meneb tur semèlèh
Gambuh mungguh jumbuh, lahir batiné nyawiji
Niat gumregah kumrembyah sagah manembah mring Allah
Sparrows Spin a Family
Gamelan sings with enchanting sound
Nurturing feeling with deep meaning, with noble conduct
A powerful charm, intricate lucidity; cherish value and beauty
Soft but not weak, loud but not vulgar,
The gender phrasing “Golden Rooster”
bonang and gambang ornamented by the trill of the flute
A clear voice warns: if engulfed in vacancy, you will be
dispersed in confusion, a deadly flaw.
Proud the musical piece, the sound clear and strong
Famous and renown, fine the rebab-player, skillful the
for their styling is fresh, smart and sharp
urged forward, undeterred, weaving, evading, never caught
On the foundation of true teaching, the gender playing is
clever, the dancing captivating.
Word and deed must be careful and considered
at last to penetrate true knowledge
the guide must be firm and true.
Melodic phrases moving, turns that entrall,
captivating the heart with joy and laughter, alluring grace
Touching the heart, ever restless, solidly coming to rest.
Having come to union, body and soul are one.
Intent awakened trembles, ready to worship God.
The shadow
puppet repertoire:
Puppet showing Arjuna, a hero
of the Pandawas, deep in
meditation and solitude.
Image from Alit Djajasoebrata.
Shadow puppetry in Java has a long history.
Dating from the 10th century, puppet masters
have told and re-told the ancient Indian stories
of the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics,
although with distinctive Javanese characters
and plotlines.
The Mahabharata in Javanese tellings is closely
connected to the ancient history of Java. The
figures of the tales are ancestors of the first king
of Java, Parikesit.
The Mahabharata spans 12 generations. It begins with Wisnu the god and ends with
Parikesit, the father of Yadayana, the first king of Java. The main story, however is
the tale of the familial competition: the five Pandawa brothers against their 99
cousins, the Kurawa brothers.
The Pandawas, Yudhistira, Bima, Arjuna, and the twins Nakula and Sadewa, were
raised together with their cousins the Kurawas in the kingdom of Astina. The six
eldest Kurawas, Duryadana, Dursasana, Kartamarma, Durgandesena, Citraksa, and
Citraksi constantly compete with the Pandawas, who always won.
The Pandawas eventually leave Astina and build the kingdom of Amarta. However,
in a game of dice, Yudhistira loses all the Pandawas’ possessions, including Amarta,
to the Kurawas, for 12 years.
The Pandawas wander in exile and in disguise. After their years of exile are up,
Kresna goes to the Kurawas to negotiate the return of Astina. His negotiation fails,
the Bharatayuda (Great War) ensues.
In the war, all of the Pandawa’s sons are slain as are all the Kurawas. Yudhistira
resumes kingship of Astina and passes it to Arjuna’s grandson, Parikesit.
Kresna Duta // Kresna the Envoy
This is just one episode in the saga between the Kurawas and the Pandawas. In
this episode, the Pandawas, disguised in exile, have been uncovered. King
Matswapati, who extends them his protection, is determined to lend his
support and all the strength of his kingdom Wiratha to the Pandawas.
Yudhistira, the eldest Pandawa, sends Kresna as a special envoy to Astina to
request that Duryudana fulfill his promise and return the kingdom of Amarta to
the Pandawas. With a willing heart, the noble envoy carries out the command
of the Honorable Yudhistira and King Matswapati. Kresna’s journey gives hope
to the world and is witnessed by four great gods: Narada, Parasurama, Kanwa,
and Janaka.
Word of Kresna’s arrival in Astina reaches Duryudana. At once, he puts his
cunning mind to work, determined to thwart Kresna’s plan. In a grand audience
in Astina, all leaders of the kingdom are present. Kresna is welcomed and
treated as an important guest, but behind this pretense, Sangkuni has poisoned
Kresna’s food and the Kurawas are ready to kill him. Duryudana arrogantly
retracts his promise, which had been witnessed by the gods, to return the
kingdom to the Pandawas. Chaos breaks out at once.
Kresna Duta // Kresna the Envoy
Kresna remains vigilant when he leaves the audience and he sees Setiyaki fighting with
Burisrawa. Together, the Kurawas attack Kresna. There are one hundred Kurawas,
armed with all kinds of weapons, directed toward Kresna, but with the power of the
god Wisnu, Kresna changes into an ogre who is able to swallow up the earth. Narada
soon intervenes so that Kresna returns to his original form. Kresna gives a sign for
Satiyaki to continue his journey to Panggombakan.
Meanwhile, Kalasrenggi, the son of King Guwabarong, holds a deep resentment
towards Arjuna. He wanders the forest around looking for Arjuna, wanting to kill him
and take revenge for the death of his father and mother. During his journey,
Kalasrenggi by chance meets Irawan, the son of Arjuna and Dewi Ulupi. He thinks it is
Arjuna and without hesitation pounces on him, but Irawan is ready with his dagger,
and in the end they both die.
On his journey, Kresna meets Karna who is meditating at the edge of the Yamuna
River. Kresna tries to persuade Karna to join the Pandawas before the Battle of the
Bharatayuda ensues. However, Karna is not to be persuaded, and says that whatever
happens, he will remain loyal to the Kurawas and is ready to die on the battlefield.
Karna then leaves Kresna to go and see his mother, Kunthi.
Yudhistira, the eldest
Pandawa brother.
Image: Walter Angst.
Dursasana, a
Kurawa brother.
Image: Walter
Kresna, envoy of the
Image: Alit Djajasoebrata
Bima, a Pandawa
Image: Walter Angst
Stories and legends in Java
are not only told through
shadow puppetry. Wooden
puppets, called wayang
golek are used, especially
to tell Islamic stories in
West Java.
This is a wooden puppet of
Arjuna from Cirebon.
Image: Mimi Herbert.
Dance is also a way to tell the stories of the
Ramayana and Mahabharata in Java.
Blambangan Cakil, the dance to be performed
on September 23, 2011, portrays the conflict
between Arjuna and Cakil, an ogre whose name
means “Fang”. This dance is also often taken to
represent the struggle between good and evil.
Cakil and Arjuna, as puppets
Image: Alit Djajasoebrata
Image credits and bibliography
Angst, Walter. Wayang Indonesia The Fantastic World of
Indonesian Puppet Theater. Konstanz: Stadler
Verlagsgesellschaft, 2007.
Brandon, James R. On Thrones of Gold Three Javanese
Shadow Plays. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1970.
Djajasoebrata, Alit. Shadow Theatre in Java The Puppets,
Performance and Repertoire. Amsterdam and Singapore: The
Pepin Press, in association with the Museum of Ethnology
Rotterdam, 1999.
Herbert, Mimi. Voices of the Puppet Masters The Wayang
Golek Theater of Indonesia. Jakarta: The Lontar Foundation,
and Honolulu: the University of Hawaii Press, 2002.
Presented by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, in
collaboration with the North Quadrangle Programming,
the Indonesian Arts Institute of Surakarta, the
Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, the
Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments of the U-M
School of Music, Theater, and Dance, the Department
of Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Office of the
Vice Provost of Academic Affairs.

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