Program 2015

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The University of Pittsburgh Department of Music presents Modern 

 Music of West Java, Indonesia

 University of Pittsburgh Gamelan

Indra Ridwan, Instructor 

Andrew Weintraub, Director


Guest Artist: 


Ega Robot (master drummer)

 Bellefield Auditorium  

Saturday, April 1I,  2015, 8 p.m.  




Established in 1997, the Indonesian music program at Pitt has introduced thousands of students to new ways of thinking about, practicing, performing, and composing music. The gamelan class (Music 0690) is offered every semester and meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00pm to 5:20pm. The course is taught by Dr. Indra Ridwan, who completed his PhD in Music (Ethnomusicology) at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. The purpose of the course, as well as the Music Department’s Carpathian ensemble and the African music and dance ensemble, is to give students at Pitt an opportunity to study and perform music from a variety of cultural groups. By embodying the movements used to produce sound on the instruments, and by learning to listen to the other members of the ensemble, students experience the music in a visceral and personal way.


Students in the gamelan program are encouraged to explore cross-cultural processes of learning as much as possible; oral transmission of musical parts is preferred over written notation, and working together as an ensemble is more important than developing individual talent. Students are also encouraged to play more than one instrument and to learn the relationships among them. Therefore, in our concerts, the student musicians move from one instrument to another in order to put into practice what they have learned during the semester.


The University of Pittsburgh gamelan ensemble plays the music of the Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia. The modern nation of Indonesia consists of about 17,000 islands (of which a few thousand are populated), the fourth largest population in the world, hundreds of ethnic groups, and about 700 languages spoken. The cultural and musical diversity of this modern island community is staggering. Sunda is a geographical, historical, and cultural sign that signifies “home” for the Sundanese people. The approximately 25-30 million Sundanese make up the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia.


The University Gamelan Artists-in-Residence Program was created in 1998. During the past 17 years, 38 prominent musicians, dancers, and theatre artists have been invited to the university to teach, present workshops and lecture-demonstrations, and perform in large-scale gamelan concerts for the university community, as well as the Pittsburgh community at large. This program offers American students a rare opportunity to study music, dance, and theater with some of Indonesia’s finest artists. During his week- long residency, this year’s artist-in-residence Ega Robot taught private lessons, rehearsed regularly with the Gamelan group, presented lectured-demonstrations for our world music classes (300 students), and performed in our annual concert.


Outside Indonesia, perhaps the most well-known musical ensemble type is gamelan. Gamelan refers to a set of predominantly percussion instruments including tuned gongs, metal-keyed instruments, and drums (as well as bowed lute, flute, and voice). Gamelan music is played as accompaniment for dance, drama, puppet theater, and martial arts, as well as for concerts of listening music. Gamelan is performed for special occasions and to mark important life cycle events.


Each gamelan has a unique tuning and character--instruments in one set are tuned to each other and are not interchangeable with instruments from other sets. Gamelan sets are often named to reflect their individual character. The University owns two gamelan: “Kyai Tirta Rukmi” (“Venerable Rivers of Gold”) and “Ligar Pasundan” (“Fragrance of Pasundan”). “Venerable Rivers of Gold” refers to the rivers of Pittsburgh and the black and gold paint on the instrument stands. This gamelan is tuned to salendro, a five-tone tuning system made up of approximately equidistant intervals. The “Fragrance of Pasundan” suggests that the gamelan, like the fragrance of a flower, spreads its influence far from its place of origin in the Pasundan region of West Java. This gamelan is tuned to degung, a five-tone tuning system (different from salendro) made up of large and small intervals.


In gamelan salendro, each instrument in the ensemble plays one of four primary musical functions or roles, which contribute to the rich polyphonic layering or strata of sound. The “structural melody, usually played on the metal-keyed instruments, constitutes the basic underlying melodic foundation for each piece. “Elaboration,” played on the gambang (xylophone), and bonang (small kettle gongs on a rack), refers to melodic variation and ornamentation based on the structural melody. “Punctuation,” played on the large and small hanging gongs and kenong (large kettle gongs on a rack), refers to the temporal marking of important points in the rhythmic cycle. Finally, the “time-keeping” function is realized by the drummer, who signals the beginning and ending of pieces, directs tempo changes, and controls the dynamics of the music.


A typical gamelan degung comprises eight instruments: bonang (small gongs suspended horizontally on a rack); jengglong (6 medium-size hanging gongs); goong/kempul (2 large hanging gongs); panerus (lower- pitched metal-keyed instrument); peking (higher-pitched metal-keyed instrument); kendang (set of 3 drums); and suling (bamboo flute). Unlike the large central Javanese gamelan, or even the smaller Sundanese gamelan salendro, music for degung is more heterophonic than colotomic in nature; that is, the majority of instruments (bonang, panerus, peking, saron, and suling) are all played in a heterophonic manner, while the jengglong and goong/kempul are used to play colotomic parts, and the kendang functions as a time-keeping instrument.


Gamelan degung was created for local Sundanese regents (bupati) of West Java during the early 20th century. Regents promoted the performing arts for the entertainment of their families and other aristocrats of the Dutch colonial state. In its classic pre-independence form (pre-1945), gamelan degung is predominantly instrumental and features the melodic improvisations of the suling. During the post-independence period, many Indonesian composers created songs for the ensemble and popularized the new genre of vocal music (degung kawih). In its modern form, gamelan degung also incorporates songs from the gamelan salendro ensemble, a more popular village-based genre of gamelan. Song texts center around male-female relationships and the beauty of the natural environment.


In addition to gamelan, this evening’s concert features calung, a set of tuned bamboo idiophones that accompany songs, including children’s songs (kakawihan barudak Sunda); kacapi (zither); angklung, shaken bamboo rattles; and terbang (frame drum). A performance of Sundanese music is not complete without vocal music. The Pitt gamelan group also performs new music in collaboration with local Pittsburgh musicians playing non-Indonesian instruments. We would like to thank Dr. Charles Lwanga (djembe) and Urie Kline (taiko) for joining us this evening. Each piece will be introduced during the concert.




 1. Cacarakan (gamelan salendro)   

2. Kakawihan (gamelan salendro)  

3. Bangbung Hideung (gamelan degung with angklung) 

4. Sesenggotan (gamelan salendro) 

5. Hadroh (rebana with kendang, taiko, and djembe)

6. Calung (calung)


7. Kodehel (gamelan salendro)

8. Sisindiran (gamelan salendro)

9. Tataluan (gamelan salendro)

10. Ragasunda (kacapi and vocal)

11. Ringkang Padingdang (gamelan salendro)

12. Gogonjakan (gamelan salendro)

Ega Robot, master drummer 

 Ega Robot (Cahyar Mulyana) was born in the West Javanese town of Subang in 1975. His father directed a music and dance troupe that performed at celebratory occasions in the region. At the age of four, he began accompanying his father and older brothers to performances of ketuk tilu (musical ensemble that accompanies folk dances), jaipongan (modern dance, based on ketuk tilu), and sisingaan (lion dance). His talent was recognized at a young age, and he quickly gained a reputation as a skilled and creative drummer, especially for the wildly popular form jaipongan. He attended the High School for the Performing Arts (SMKI) and the Indonesia University of Education (IKIP), where he earned his undergraduate degree in music in 2000. His composition teachers include Nano S., Harry Roesli, Dieter Mack, and Jaduk Ferianto. As a composer and musician, his work is at the forefront of modern Sundanese music. In West Java, he directs a musical group called “Ega Robot Ethnic Percussion” that performs regularly at festivals, weddings, and international events. He has participated in musical tours in Malaysia, Denmark, Japan, Korea, Holland, Australia, China, Thailand, and the United States. This concert marks his first appearance in Pittsburgh.

The University of Pittsburgh Gamelan Musicians 

 Nita Yulia Anggraeni  

Robert O. Beahrs 

Qimin Felicia Chia 

Dara Zaneta Ikejiani 

Alexandra Skyler Meier 

Jonathan H. Newman 

Luke Townsend Raber

Andrew Michael Slepman 

Andrew N. Weintraub

Hei Ting Wong

Indra Ridwan, Instructor


Please visit our websites:


 Urie Kline, Charles Lwanga, Pitt Arts, University of Pittsburgh Department of Music, Indonesian Student Organization (PERMIAS), Paula Riemer, Phil Thompson.