.MAGHRIB

Maghriba is a piece for Sheng, Sarons (pelog and slendro), Bandurria double with Octavina and Strings. Before I started composing this piece, I did spectra analysis on sarons, and from that analysis I got some frequencies that I use to build this piece. This composition itself consists of three sections. In the first section, I made the texture and density of this piece become more saturated by using complex rhythmic layers and some extended techniques that support its saturation goals.In the second section I expose some frequencies from the spectra analysis and its modification to create beat frequency effect, and made the texture and the “gesture” of this section become more flowing. These beat frequencies effect produced by microinterval combination and extended technique that I found with the musician during our observation (especially the extended technique in Octavina). After the second section, I start to build the tension toward the climax moment at the end of this piece by gradually building up its energy. The energy means: the use of drastically changing in dynamics, texture, rhythmic complexity, etc to boost the energy toward the climax part at the end of this piece.

 

Duration: c.a 05’.30”

Gamelan and New Music in Indonesia

    Gamelan has a strong stand in Indonesia’s contemporary music scene. Most of the new music scene in Indonesia not only exploring gamelan instruments itself as a sound source but also exploring and developing gamelan musical language. We can see how gamelan and its musical language was used and developed by Indonesian composers from Ki Tjokrowasito to Dion Nataraja generation. How they use gamelan and its musical language for their artistic purpose, from taken it as an abstract for compositional techniques until the use of spectral development from gamelan instruments timbre analysis.

    K.R.T Wasitodiningrat or well known as Ki Tjokrowasito was a notable gamelan composer in his generation. There is something unusual that he did in his gamelan music, especially his piece titled “Ronda Malam”. In this piece, he negated the traditional musical language in gamelan. He negated the role of bonang as the introduction instrument and changed it with gender penerus, which in the traditional gamelan music, gender penerus usually has a role to develop the balungan (main melody). In this piece, he uses gender penerus to open the introduction of this piece, and he also added kentongan (a hollow wooden object) that usually people use as an “alarm” when something bad happens in the society. Then, someone will hit this wooden object to give a sign to the people around. 

    The substance of this kind of negation reminds me of Helmut Lachenmann when he transformed pitch-based elements into noise materials in his early pieces. Ki Tjokrowasito developed the musical language/rules in gamelan: a gender penerus that usually has to do the complex inner melody is now playing the introduction part in his pieces.

    In 1970s generation, there is Paul Gutama Soegijo with his gamelan ensemble called Banjar Gruppe. This group did not only play traditional pieces, but also performed new music for Gamelan composed by Gutama himself, During his life, Gutama released two albums “Compositions 1967 – 1996 a choice” and “New Source Music”. Paul Gutama Soegijo had an idea to deconstruct the tradition from its ethnographical context, calling it “Musik Leluhur Baru” (“New Source Music”).

We can read about Gutama’s concept in Dieter Mack’s book and Gutama says

“I am practicing deconstruction. A further step in the innovative process is made when structural concepts are freed from their ethnographic context and taken as abstract, emerge as objects of compositional speculation. From an ethnographic point of view, Imbalan is the sign of a new section in a Gending, from instrumental and compositional point of view, Imbalan is a practical method of achieving fast figuration on heavy percussion instruments. To the gamelan instruments I later added percussion from other countries and culture (…) This is in short New Source Music.” [1]

This kind of “deconstruction” also happened in I Wayan Sadra’s music. There is a famous statement by him. 

“Free the sound from its cultural burden.” 

    This statement was manifested in the way of how he uses gamelan instruments in his pieces. Two good examples are from two pieces titled “Otot Kawat Balung Wesi” and “Daily” where he uses gongs not like in the traditional way as instruments that have responsibility to determine the structure of a gendhing. In those two pieces, Sadra put gongs on the floor and hit it even dragged it over the floor to produce unique sounds. In my opinion, this way of deconstruction had opened a new sound horizon of gamelan music.

    Another good example of how Indonesian composer using or develop gamelan and its musical language comes from Dion Nataraja. In his piece titled “Pathetan Partiels” Dion combines spectral music techniques and gamelan to explore the potential in advancing postcolonial goals in music. He argues, if there is no space for exoticism in the acoustic space, so through this spectral development from gamelan instruments timbre analysis, he is metaphorically abstracting gamelan from its history by abstracting it into its basic elements. The focus is shifted to the act of listening rather than the exotic or nationalistic connotations that are often attached to it. Sound is then liberated from its historical and semantic burdens.

    Dion and I have a “similarity” in terms of utilizing the “tradition” for several purposes by doing spectra analysis in the beginning of the process. In my cyberspace installation titled “[Orien] (spec) [t] (r) [al]”, I did spectra analysis on saron to criticize Arnold Schoenberg statement that compares and impose “Western” music scale perspective to music from "Other side of the world" that ended with “negative” statement, where Schoenberg claim if music for examples from the Arabs, the Chinese and Japanese, or the gypsies has not evolved to such heights as ours (western music at his time). 

    Through spectra analysis of saron (one of instrument in gamelan set), I set all frequencies in this simple “game installation”  based on the spectra analysis result to evolve the saron (the music from another side of the world). Everytime the avatar of Schoenberg’s head hit the saron, it will trigger the spectra of saron. The combination of the visual, the interactive side, and the sound then boost a semantic meaning: “counter” the Schoenberg statement!. You can play this installation in a free time and you also can change and modify the code that will affect the piece, for example, to counter my critique on Schoenberg statement. Go ahead if you want!.

Figure 1_[Orien] (spec) [t] (r) [al].jpg

    In my new piece, “Maghrib” for Sheng, Bandurria double with Octavina, Sarons (Pelog and Slendro) and Strings, I also did spectra analysis to support my idea in this piece. However, in this piece, the spectra analysis result doesn't have any “political” statement like “liberated the sound from its connotations (exoticism, nationalism, and so on)” or critique tendency in my another piece “[Orien] (spec) [t] (r) [al]”. In my new piece `”Maghrib”, I use spectra analysis on sarons to get some frequencies that I can use to build the piece, for example like to creating beating frequencies moment in this piece, because from the spectra analysis and its modification (distorting the spectra using some calculation) I got some micro interval that's possible to be used in my piece to realize my idea, that's how I deal with the tradition (in this case saron timbre and its spectra analysis). 

Figure 2_Sarons Spectra Analysis for -Ma

    This piece is divided into three sections. In the first section, I made the texture and density of this piece become more saturated by using complex rhythmic layers and some extended techniques that support its saturation goals. In the second section, I expose some frequencies from the spectra analysis and its modification to create beat frequency effect and made the texture and the “gesture” of this section become more flowing. These beat frequencies effect is produced by microinterval combination and extended technique that I found with the musician during our observation (especially the extended technique in Octavina). After the second section, I start to build the tension toward the climax moment at the end of this piece by gradually building up its energy. The energy means: the use of drastically changing in dynamics, texture, rhythmic complexity, etc to boost the energy toward the climax part at the end of this piece.

    

    The examples above are just a few pieces of gamelan development in New Music in Indonesia. Those examples mostly from Javanese gamelan background, and from this Javanese gamelan background, there are some other names such as Rahayu Supanggah, Aloysius Suwardi, etc. However, we also can find other gamelans tradition background that was used and developed in New Music in Indonesia. For example how Balinese gamelan develops in new works by I Wayan Gede Yudane, Dewa Ketut Alit, Nyoman Windha, I Madé Arnawa, Putu Septa, Yan Priya Kumara (Janu), Ni Nyoman Srayamurtikanti, Ni Komang Wulandari, etc. In West Java, there are several composers that derived from Sundanese Karawitan background such as Iwan Gunawan, Dody Satyaekagustdiman, etc.

Maghrib

Bandurria_Octavina

Contrabass

Saron part paling

Sheng

Viola

Violin

References

Septian Dwi Cahyo.jpg