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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

GAMELAN OF CENTRAL JAVA: I. CLASSICAL GENDINGS

By Stacy Meyn

Dunya

GAMELAN OF CENTRAL JAVA: II. CEREMONIAL MUSIC
Dunya

Dunya Records offers up two excellent new recordings of traditional Indonesian gamelan. On Classical Gendings, listeners are treated to performances by Nyi Cendaniraras (voice), and faculty members of the Music Conservatory (Sekolah Tinngi Seni Indonesia) Surakarta. The Surakarta kraton (court) style offers the softer mode that's the better known-form of gamelan, and this recording's three pieces support Music Of Java author Jaap Kunst's famed description of the music as "comparable to moonlight and flowing water." Ceremonial Music gives us five tracks of religious and ceremonial music recorded in the field at the Grand Mosque and Mangkunagaran palace in Surakarta in 1996 and again in 2001. The first two tracks are played during the Islamic festival Sekaten and are a noisier form intended to be played all day, over crowds. Munggang is considered to be the oldest known Javanese music, a three-tone gamelan rooted in 13th century Javanese Hinduism. Two more examples of proto-gamelan round out the CD, evidencing a cyclic process building to crescendo. These gamelan recordings are a must-listen to clean out eardrums and speaker cones.