Program 2009

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The University of Pittsburgh

Department of Music 




Dance Music of Indonesia 



University of Pittsburgh Gamelan

Directed by

Andrew Weintraub and Indra Ridwan 


Guest Artists:

Ening Rumbini

Wahyu Roche 


Bellefield Hall Auditorium

April 3 & 4, 2009


          Students at the University of Pittsburgh have the opportunity to learn about Indonesian music and culture by participating in the University Gamelan Ensemble (Music 0690). Gamelan refers to a set of predominantly percussion instruments including tuned gongs, metal-keyed instruments, and drums (as well as bowed lute and voice). Established in 1995, the gamelan performance program at Pitt has introduced hundreds of students to new ways of thinking about, practicing, performing, and composing music. During the past seven years, guest artists from Indonesia 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 for the larger Pittsburgh community. The concerts not only demonstrate traditional forms of music, dance, and theater as they are performed in Indonesia, but they also provide an opportunity for musical and theatrical experimentation.

          The ensemble plays the music of the Sundanese people, an ethnic group that inhabits roughly the western third of the island of Java. The approximately 30 million Sundanese make up the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia. While the majority of the population lives in rural or semi-rural settings, large cities have become increasingly central to the creation of new artistic genres, including those represented this evening.

          The gamelan ensemble is composed of students as well as community members. The participants in the gamelan program are encouraged to use Sundanese 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 learn and play more than one instrument and to learn the relationships among them. Therefore, in our concerts, the musicians move from one position to another in order to put into practice what they have learned.


Gamelan at Pitt


          The University of Pittsburgh gamelan owns two gamelan sets. The first set, which arrived in October, 1995, is named “Kyai Tirta Rukmi,” or “Venerable Rivers of Gold.” This gamelan is tuned to laras salendro (a five-tone tuning system made up of approximately equidistant intervals). Each instrument in the ensemble is associated with 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, is the basic underlying melodic foundation for each piece. “Elaboration,” played on the rebab (bowed lute), gambang (xylophone), and bonang (small kettle gongs on a rack), refers to melodic variation and ornamentation based on the structural melody.  The player of the rebab reinforces the vocal line of the singer in a heterophonic manner. “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.

          The second set of instruments, which arrived in March, 2005, is named “Ligar Pasundan” (“Fragrance of Pasundan”). This gamelan is tuned to laras degung (a five-tone tuning system made up of large and small intervals). Gamelan degung was created for local Sundanese regents (bupati) of West Java during the early 20th century. A typical gamelan degung comprises seven instruments: bonang; jengglong (6 tuned hanging gongs); goong/kempul (2 hanging gongs); panerus (metal-keyed instrument); peking (metal-keyed instrument); kendang (set of 3 drums); and suling (bamboo flute). Unlike the Sundanese gamelan salendro, music for gamelan degung is more heterophonic; that is, the musicians realize one main melody in different ways. The majority of instruments (bonang, panerus, peking, and suling) are all played in a heterophonic manner. The jengglong and goong/kempul are used to punctuate the melody, and the kendang functions as a time-keeping instrument. Other Sundanese instruments used in this performance include kacapi, an 18-string zither, and calung, a set of bamboo idiophones, and karinding (mouth harp).  




          In Indonesia, dance has developed in conjunction with ceremonial and religious rituals, popular entertainment, court culture, modern drama, and avant-garde artistic expression. Classical dance forms are part of elaborate dance drama productions in which dance functions to distinguish different types of characters, ranging from refined to course characterizations. Dancers use elaborate costumes and masks to portray different character types. Javanese classical dance appears rather abstract, but the movement patterns are all designed to contribute to the portrayal of characters.

          West Java did not have kraton (palaces) like its Central Javanese counterpart. In West Java, the closest equivalent to the Central Javanese kraton were the kabupaten (provincial government seats), which had neither the resources nor the influence to maintain, develop, and preserve dance traditions such as those of the Central Javanese kraton. Dance was performed in the kabupaten and patronized by the bupati (governors), but limited resources necessitated bringing artists in from the surrounding community to perform in the kabupaten. As a result, music and dance traditions were developed within artistic families rather than in the courts.

          Sundanese classical dance, while based on Javanese forms, has its own unique style and repertoire. One of the most important features of Sundanese dance is its close connection to the drumming, which is loud, dynamic and exciting. All Sundanese dance genres share certain traits including the prominent drumming, manner of stepping, and graceful arm gestures. In dance music, the drummer accompanies the movements of the dance by playing corresponding sound patterns for each movement.

          One of the most widely known and important modern dance forms in Indonesia is called jaipongan. Created in the 1970s in the urban capital of Bandung, West Java, jaipongan took the dance world by storm.  It was based on folk dance movements and music from the rural areas around Bandung, but it had a different aesthetic than the traditional forms. Characteristics of jaipongan include set choreographies, dramatic poses, bright costumes, jagged melodic lines, and elaborate musical arrangements.  Most of the dances were created for women, and they highlight the beauty of the female body, as interpreted by male choreographers.

          The emergence of jaipongan coincided with the tremendous influx of Western cultural and entertainment forms during the 1970s.  In order to compete with these forms, composers incorporated Western movements and sounds. Propelled by the cassette industry, which disseminated the music for accompanying the dances, jaipongan caused quite a stir when musical recordings for the dances began circulating widely in the early 1980s. Some thought jaipongan was too Western because some of the dance movements were akin to modern dance a la Martha Graham as well as the then-popular genre of disco. Others thought the dance was too eroticized because of the hip and chest movements, as well as the revealing costumes (by Indonesian standards). Some called for the dances to be banned from live performance and television. However, people began to appreciate the beauty of the dance, and they prevailed over more conservative voices. Its popularity continued to grow in the 1990s. Today, jaipongan is considered one of the "classical" dances of Indonesia. 





1. Gamelan Salendro (Instrumental):

“Overture”Composed by Wahyu Roche, this rhythmically challenging piece demonstrates the skills and ability of our group to play well together.


2. Dance: “Tari Merak” (choreographer: Irawati Durban) 

“Tari Merak” portrays the dynamic and graceful movements of the peacock. It is a relatively recent dance choreographed by the well-known dancer Irawati Durban during the 1980s. The accompaniment for Sundanese dance features virtuosic drumming that matches the dance gestures with specific drumming patterns. The drummer also “translates” the dancer's musical cues into an audible form that the musicians can follow.


3. “Sampak”

“Sampak” shows how the drummer signals changes in loudness and tempo.


4. “Panglima”

This arrangement of the basic piece “Panglima” consists of two alternating sections. The basic underlying melodic structure is the same for each section, but the treatment of each section presents contrasting moods.


5. Calung

Calung refers to a set of bamboo idiophones that accompany singing. These songs are Sundanese children’s songs.


6. Dance: “Topeng Klana”

“Topeng Klana” belongs to a genre of mask dance called Topeng Cirebon. Topeng literally means “mask,” and Cirebon is a coastal city on the north coast of Java. A performance of Topeng Cirebon consists of a series of five dances, each portraying a different character. A performance of the five dances can last nine hours, and builds in intensity from refined to course characters. Klana is the fifth and final character. Klana, also called Rahwana, is greedy, lawless, and wild; his dark red mask symbolizes unrestrained passions. Though the character has negative and demonic connotations, it represents an important side of human existence. His dance, which is the most energetic and exciting of the five, is also the most popular one among audiences.




7. Gamelan Degung

(a) “Dareuda” depicts a mode of “talking while crying”; (b) “Sulanaga” takes its name from combining syllables from two music groups, Sulanjana and Nagaswara; (c) “Ayun Ambing,” arranged by Wahyu Roche, refers to rocking a baby to sleep.


8. “Sunting”

Wahyu Roche composed this piece for kacapi (zither), erhu (Chinese fiddle), karinding, and goong/kempul. The title blends the words “Sunda” (ethnic group of West Java) and “Tionghoa” (Chinese).


9. “Rampak Kendang” (Wahyu Roche)

This piece features the dynamic rhythmic patterns of the kendang, a set of three drums made up of one large drum and two small drums. These standard rhythmic patterns are arranged and coordinated to create a feeling of excitement.


10. Dance: “Jaipongan” (choreographer: Ening Rumbini)

Jaipongan is a music and dance form created in Bandung, West Java, during the 1970s. The genre is rooted in Sundanese village performing arts, particularly the instrumentation, repertoire, and drumming style of ketuk tilu.   


Featured Artists 


Ening Rumbini (b. 1969) comes from a family of artists trained in the traditional performing arts of music, dance, and puppetry.  Her father was a popular dalang (puppeteer) of the 1940s-1970s. She began studying Sundanese classical dance at age ten. The following year, she began learning the wildly popular jaipongan dance. Her teacher was Gugum Gumbira, the founder and main choreographer of the Jugala dance company. As a member of Jugala, she participated in local (West Java) and national (Jakarta) performances during the boom years of jaipongan (1980s and 1990s). In 1987 she entered the national music conservatory in Bandung.  As a member of Jugala, she has performed on concert tours to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Currently, she teaches dance in Bandung.  


Wahyu Roche was born into a family of musicians in the coastal region of Sukabumi, West Java. He received formal training in music at the High School for Music (SMKI) and College of Music (STSI) in Bandung. He received his undergraduate degree from the latter with a specialization in drumming and singing. As a member of the pioneering jaipongan group Jugala group, Wahyu performed frequently in Indonesia as well as in Europe, Australia, and Japan. He was a member of the Jugala group when they opened for Mick Jagger in Jakarta (1989). He currently performs with several groups as a free-lance musician including Sulanjana, Gipar, and Dedikasi. As a composer, he has written music for Rendra’s Bengkel Theatre. He recently released his debut album as a featured vocalist. As a teacher and performer, Wahyu has extensive international experience. He participated four times in the traveling Klangwelten Festival of World Music in Germany. In Australia, he has performed with the world music fusion group Warogus, Gamelan Swara Naga (University of New England, Armidale, NSW), and Gamelan Langen Sari (Bangalow, NSW). Wahyu has also performed and taught percussion workshops in Singapore.   


The University of Pittsburgh Gamelan Musicians 


The Pitt University Gamelan is made up of Pitt students, CMU students and community members. The class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 520pm. Enrollment is currently open for the fall semester, 2009. 


Keith DeVries

Zach Ennis

Kim Frost

Patrick Gillie

Melissa Hellmann

Karla Huebner

Jennifer Monahan

Johan Nystrom

Ben Pachter (Teaching Assistant)

Valery Pinchuk

Robert Sheaff

Yun-Mi Shin 


Please visit our website at  




University of Pittsburgh, Department of Music, Asian Studies Center, Pitt Arts, Dorothy Shallenberger, Phil Thompson.


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