In Indonesia

Mang Utun playing from Karinding Attack playing the Karinding
Mang Utun from Karinding Attack playing the Karinding

Greetings friends,

A little update, have been in Indonesia since the beginning of the year, initially in Jogjakarta, then in Bandung the past week and a half, before heading back this weekend to Jogjakarta where I’ll be based till maybe June this year.

The time in Indonesia has been extremely fruitful.  Spent the first couple of weeks arranging the logistics for The Unified Field performance with Marta Moreno, this has been planned and scheduled to happen in April, tentatively at the Jogjakarta National Museum.  Spent new years eve at Eloprogo, a gallery and residency place about an hour and a half away from Jogjakarta in the remotest of places, simply put, it looks like paradise on earth, and Marta and I are fortunate enough to schedule a 3 week residency there in mid Feb!

The research and planning for The Future Sounds Of Folk project has also been running concurrent to all this, I have gotten in touch with many interesting people such as Mr Endo, he is a walking encyclopedia of Indonesian music and was involved in the process of the 20 disc Smithsonian Folkway release Music Of Indonesia.  I will be going to meet him again next week to meet more musicians, collectives and emsembles from Jogjakarta and Solo.  Over the past week and a half in Bandung, I have also been recording some very interesting musicians, the first of them being Karinding Attack, a group of 7 musicians who play their own compositions using the karinding and other bamboo instruments.

The karinding is an instrument that is similar to a jew’s harp, you put it between your lips and modulate your mouth, tongue and breathing to creating the sounds.  The differences between the jew’s harp and the karinding is in the construction material used, karingding is carved from a piece of bamboo while a jew’s harp is made from metal, and the way it is triggered, the karinding by hitting the side of the instrument while jew’s harp has a little trigger for the player to pull.

Earlier today I also had the priviledge to record renowned trompet pencak player Mang Ayi as well as multi-instrumentalist Jimbot.  The trompet pencak is a double reed woodwind instrument with seven sound finger holes, it has a very high and abrasive pitch similar to the zorna. Before heading to Jimbot’s house to do the recordings, I was lucky enough to have Jimbot take me to the local music and dance school just around the corner from his place to take a look at the budding talents of traditional dance and music.

Percussion Group Preparing For Their Final Exams

What really caught my attention was the percussion class, there they have mixed in traditional instruments such as the kendang (double sided drums) and gambang (xylophone) with an orchestra or recycled percussions ranging from the usual metal oil drums to plastic jerry cans to biscuit tins and the a rack with glass bottles filled with different amounts of water resembling the ‘benzin’ sellers here in Indonesia!

All in all, it has been more than eventful these past weeks, and everything seems to be in its preliminary stage, so I am very very excited!  Tomorrow I will do a presentation here at Common Room followed by a One Man Nation concert.  This concert is also going to be different, after the solo set, I will be doing an improvised set with Jimbot, who will be playing the kendang, bonang and suling.