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2.3 Music: The Dramaturgy of Emotions
I have tried (and failed) to learn gamelan on different occasions and I have been invited to participate in the creation of kontemporer soundtracks. Reflecting on these experiences, I suggest points of continuity and identify differences in the ways the music is prepared (through rehearsal or composition) and used in the performances.
I first started learning gamelan in 2008, the first time I arrived in Indonesia. The saron is deceptively easy to learn. I had no problem playing along if I read from a piece of paper that was given to me where the piece was outlined. But I found it impossible to understand how people switched between the different segments marked out in the piece of paper. Everyone seemed to know when to progress and when to go back except for me. But my incompetence enlightened me to the nature of gamelan music, which is organized through a series of cycles. The numbers written on the piece of paper constitute the melodic skeleton (balungan, which is the same word used to define the general structure of a wayang play). I also learned, although imperfectly, to listen for cues from the pengedang, who is the drum player and leader of the gamelan ensemble. In a wayang show, he sits close to the dalang, whom he listens to and observes for cues. These cues (which include rhythmical patterns played by knocking the cempala or the keprak or words uttered by the dalang) are then translated into rhythmical signals for the rest of the musicians to follow.
This double character of the music, predictably structured yet improvised, is crucial to the understanding of how music works in a wayang show. This aspect is generally missing in several kontemporer shows. Although some of them still use traditional aspects of the music, many of them don't depend on this improvisational character. For example, Enthus Susmono rehearses with his musicians so that everyone knows when to stop and end.
My second attempt to learn gamelan came several years later, when I stayed for three months in the village of Tembi to study Javanese. The highlight of the village is the Rumah Budaya Tembi (Tembi Cultural Center) which houses a small but beautiful collection of lovingly arranged Javanese objects, a hotel and one of the most impressive pendopo in Yogyakarta, a common place to attend wayang shows. On weekends, a community of amateur performers called estehanget ('icewarm' tea) gathered in the beautiful pendopo to learn gamelan together. I joined them, making timid attempts to master the mysterious craft of gamelan performance. What impressed me the most in these sessions was the ease with which they moved from conversation to music, with a few laughs and smoke puffs in between. I could never identify the moment where a new song would start (the buka which is usually marked by the bonang or rebab). Suddenly, the bonang player, a skinny, long haired man in his thirties called Rudi would start, motivated by an invisible cue from Madek, the leader of the group. A couple of beats later we would all be playing along. I say we, but the truth is that usually this abrupt start caught me ill-prepared, still half sipping my tea or talking to the rest. Yet everyone else was able to instantly follow into the music, effortlessly and flawlessly. This character of the music, which can start and end abruptly is also central to the way the musical accompaniment of a performance is woven into its narrative. My third attempt to learn to play gamelan was when I attended the Habirandha school inside the kraton of Yogyakarta (see Puppets). There, I learned more about the structure of the music throughout a wayang show and the pathet, which I will elaborate later in this section.
I was also privileged to participate in the creation of kontemporer music for Wayang Hip Hop. For the second anniversary of the group, Catur decided the group should have a song that was partially in Spanish and I was of course the designated composer of the lyrics. I was terrified but tried to comply with his wishes as best I could. His reason for using a relatively unspoken language was to use it as a veil through which to explore issues of social unrest. I immediately resorted to a phrase etched in the collective imagination of Latin American would-be protesters: "el pueblo unido jamás será vencido," [the people united, will never be defeated] a chant that was first uttered by the Chilean protesters in the 1970s but which has spread through Latin American and is a well known act of verbal agitation. It has been used in several songs and it seemed the right place to start. I wrote a few lines of feverish, rappable poetry and Catur composed the music to go with it, adding Javanese and Indonesian verses to my original lyrics. During several weeks I met with him and the rest of the Wayang Hip Hop musicians to record the song. The final result is sung in Spanish, Javanese and Indonesian.
We recorded the song at the house of Tyno, one of the young musicians who lives close to kota gedhe, the site of an ancient Javanese city. His family has a fried chicken business and we had to carefully zigzag our way through enormous buckets of inert, featherless chickens queuing to be gutted. Tyno's father could blindly cut a chicken in seconds without looking at it once, directing all his attention to the more demanding business of gossiping with his neighbors.
Tyno's room had been cleverly adapted into a recording studio. A makeshift wall was erected in a corner, creating a partition that was covered by glass in one front. Professional microphones were linked by a series of cables to a computer equipped with state of the art, pirated software. We worked there for several days, recording, amending and re-recording the music. Despite being pre-recorded, hip hop tracks such as these can also be requested by the dalang at any point of the performance. Catur and his team have developed a complicated system of cues, not dissimilar to the traditional cue system outlined above, that allow him to improvise his musical requests. However, he cannot elongate or cut the musical fragments, a prerogative of traditional dalang that can shape live music during performances. The recoding sessions also share some similarities with the rehearsal session I was present at in Tembi Rumah Budaya. There is also a seamless movement from recording to smoking and drinking tea which also catches me off guard more often than not. Some things, though, are notably different. During the recording a mistake mandates for a stop and a new take. By contrast, in the rehearsals people just laugh in a good-natured way and make fun of the author of a mistake. The other difference is that we record our voices individually inside the isolated recording cabin, and part of the communal experience of the music is lost. Still, these experiences show that we can identify continuities between creation and performance in both traditional and non-traditional settings. In what follows I extrapolate these observations to other kontemporer performances. In all cases, the music is closely linked to the progression of the affective narrative of a performance.
Conventional music
The music is an integral aspect of the emotional mood of a wayang. Therefore, the performances that maintain musical conventions recreate the affective qualities of a traditional performance's aural progression. Wayang is traditionally accompanied by a gamelan musical tapestry which aids the narration, punctuates the spectacularity of the puppet animation, and entertains the audience. The following short overview of how gamelan works in a traditional performance will describe its structural qualities and its main dramatic functions in the performance.
A wayang show is divided into several sections, each of which corresponds to a particular moment of the dramatic action and to a specific musical mode called pathet. In the Surakarta tradition, there are three pathet: sanga, nem, manyura. Pathet means modal designation, but there is some disagreement as to what it actually corresponds to. It is both the pitch range a particular melody takes and the feelings it evokes (Weiss 2006: 23). The division of the story and its musical accompaniment are closely linked together.
The melodies conjure feelings that correspond to specific moments in the performance. Consider, for example, Sri Mulyono's description of the usage of music at the end of the lakon Dewa Ruci . In this performance, Bima meets a miniature version of himself called Dewa Ruci who explains the meaning of life to him (for a fuller description see Spirituality). In a traditional presentation of this story, a gending (melody) called ayak-ayakan manyura could be played when Bima returns to the world after his encounter with Dewa Ruci. Such gending, which is often played toward the end of a performance, acquires a particular meaning: "this gending truly reflects a feeling which cannot be described, the feeling of return to a rational state after meditating" (Sri Mulyono 1982: 177). The improvisational nature of the music guarantees that the dalang controls both the music and the story. As mentioned above, the dalang can request melodies with cues, called sasmita, and indicate the different sections and the end of a musical piece by hitting a wooden mallet called cempala against the puppet box, and by hitting a metallic mallet called keprak, held by his feet, against a set of metallic plates.
The structural qualities of the music allow the musicians to easily adapt the music to the rhythmical leadership of the dalang. As mentioned above, the basic melody is called balungan, which means skeleton, which is followed and enriched by all the instruments:
The bodily image of a skeleton is useful as an analogy for understanding the layered texture of Javanese music and its progression through time. If the basic melody is the skeleton, then the instruments that mark arrivals at the quarter, eighth, or sixteenth in the cycle are like the heart and lungs rhythmically keeping the body alive, and the many instruments that elaborate the basic melody add skin, hair, eye color, and even personality (Weiss 2006: 21).
The accompaniment is also cyclic. A piece usually contains at least two distinct sections, each of which can be cyclically repeated. Sarah Weiss describes them as suites, "strings of pieces related to each other by mode and in decreasing relative size, each with internal repeats, connected together" (Weiss 2006: 21).
The musical accompaniment of a wayang performance is not restricted to gamelan music alone. The dalang uses different vocal modes to elicit emotions, and tell the story. One of these vocal modes is called suluk (sung poems). These are special songs for specific events, like the appearance of certain characters, impending wars, or important announcements. There are also special suluk for particular emotions, such as love, anger, grief and indecision. Perhaps, their evocative power is more important than the actual meaning of the words they contain, which are sometimes unknown to the dalang themselves. As Geertz notes, "they are viewed more as abstract vocal music whose significance, like that of the gendings themselves, is in their rasa, in the feeling contained in them" (Geertz 1960: 280).
None of the performances considered here use traditional musical accompaniment. But some of them use pieces that could be found in all-night wayang performances. An example of this is Ledjar Soebroto's Wayang Kancil. The music was improvised according to cues from the dalang, and it included gending appropriate to different moments, as well as traditional tembang and suluk. The only addition is related to the lyrics. Poetic fragments taken from the 19th century literary work Serat Kancil - which was also the source of the stories - were adapted to conventional gending.
Music of Wayang Kancil, gamelan melodies with new lyrics.
The music of Sungsang Bawono Balik is also very closely related to traditional wayang accompaniment, except for the fact that it is shorter and does not follow the pathet structure. Nevertheless, the same musical fragments are often used in traditional performances.
Sungsang Bawono Balik. Conventional gamelan music.
Sungsang Bawono Balik. Conventional music, and the singing of a sinden.
Although the music of the two performances by Enthus Susmono considered here, Dewa Ruci and Sugriwa dan Subali are not classical pieces, they are often found in his all-night performances. In both cases, the music was composed by Dedek Wahyudi, a renowned composer who was collaborated with a number of dalang. The same is true for Catur Kuncoro's Wayang Republik, where the music was composed by Anon Suneko Baksono (son of renowned gamelan musician Trustho Purwodipuro) and interpreted by the Canda Nada gamelan ensamble. In all cases, the pathet structure was absent, and the music in these performances was not completely improvised but they could still be found in all-night performances. Therefore, the extent to which the music may be considered traditional is a matter of perspective. When compared to the rest of the kontemporer performances, they are doubtless some of the most traditional in terms of music. The main criteria for this classification is the usage of gamelan instruments. Other performances use them as well, but these are the only ones that don't combine gamelan and other instruments.
Music of Dewa Ruci: New lyrics for gamelan music.
Music of Sugriwa dan Subali. Gamelan with some variations.
Wayang Republik. New, fast-paced gamelan music.
Despite exploring new themes and developing aesthetic innovations elsewhere, the dalang that choose to keep conventional music maintain the link between music and story almost intact. The performances that use traditional music reveal a certain purism when it comes to stories. The stories they use are either fully conventional or wholly non-conventional, but never mixed. They also denote a certain conservatism when it comes to space. No performance with traditional music used a non-conventional spatial setup. In the musical realm of these performances, the intermedial tradeoff is rejected in favor of a melodic structure intertwined with the narrative progression. In these performances, one can listen to an earlier Java while contemplating the present one.
Intermedial Music
Music is one of the main ways in which the affective narrative of the performance is transmitted. A hybrid approach allows the dalang to construct a selective recreation of this affective, aural realm but to combine it with other elements. Several distinct possibilities can be identified in performances that do this: a soundtrack approach, traditional storytelling re-interpreted, trademark fusions, hip hop, and combinations of gamelan and other elements.
In a way comparable to some performances that use Non-Conventional music (see below), Nanang Hape's Sanditama Lagu Laga has a ‘soundtrack' musical accompaniment. However, unlike fully non-conventional uses of music, here wayang conventions are used extensively, and combined with jazz-inspired electric guitar melodies, drums and new songs composed by the dalang. Nanang Hape has previously collaborated with the Helsdigen Dance Trio to create Mahabharata Jazz and Wayang, a performance that was presented at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Sanditama Lagu Laga. Gamelan, electric guitar, jazz and new songs from the dalang. The combination of music is also evident in the spatial setup of the stage. The gamelan orchestra is located stage right and a rock ensemble consisting of drums, a guitar, and a bass guitar are located stage left. Throughout the entire opening song, the gamelan and the rock ensemble can be heard playing together.
The music of Aneng Kiswantoro's Sumpah Pralaya features new songs based on Javanese conventions. The songs are used to illustrate the story in a way comparable to traditional wayang. In a traditional performance, the dalang would often use kandha (narration of a passage in the story) before enacting it through antawacana (dialogue). However, in Sumpah Pralaya, it is not a dalang, but a sinden (female singer) who narrates a fragment through song before it is portrayed through dialogue. The following song precedes the dialogue it describes:
Hide dialogue excerpts
Bambang Abimanyu promised the priestess [Utari], that during the Baratayuda War he would be killed and his body destroyed by a million weapons.
Sumpah Pralaya. New musical creations with gamelan instruments that use wayang narrative conventions.
A similar structure of alternating sung narration and dialogue is found throughout the performance. Although this pattern is structurally comparable to a traditional performance, here all the songs are interpreted by the sinden, they are new creations, and they use a slightly less refined language, making the meaning of the songs more apparent to spectators. While most kandha are delivered in kawi (a poetic register of old Javanese closely related to Sanskrit, which has fallen into disuse), the lyrics of Sumpah Pralaya were written in krama (a polite, yet still spoken register of Javanese).
Other performances in this category use the "trademark" musical fusions created by dalang who are also renowned musicians, notably Slamet Gundono and Sujiwo Tejo. Sujiwo Tejo's Kasmaran Tak Bertanda is accompanied by his fusion of guitar, jazz, pop and folk music. But a chorus also includes the song "Love Changes Everything" from Andrew Lloyd Weber's 1989 West End musical Aspects of Love. The fragment begins with the dalang singing a suluk while the gendèr plays in the background (stage right). Then, two minutes into the song, 'Love Changes Everything' begins. Here, the conventional vocal mode of accompaniment, the suluk, abruptly ends and the non-diegetic music with a clear American musical theatre connotation begins in a perfect example of how the soundtrack music works in wayang kontemporer.
Kasmaran Tak Bertanda. Opening song with gendèr musical accompaniment, followed by 'Love Changes Everything'.
Slamet Gundono, besides being a dalang, was a famous musician and singer in Java. All of his performances analyzed in this dissertation (Cebolang Minggat, Pertaruhan Drupadi, Jendral Karna and Wayang Tanah feature his characteristic singing style - which is often accompanied by a ukulele - combined with folk and gamelan music.
Cebolang Minggat. Slamet's song with ukulele, and gamelan.
Jendral Karna. The music consists of gamelan orchestra, a ukulele and a saxophone.
Pertaruhan Drupadi. Slamet intersperses his songs combined with narration and gamelan music.
Pertaruhan Drupadi. A song punctuated by the rhythm of the keprak, kandha (conventional narrative) and gamelan music, which is then followed by Slamet's song and ukulele music.
Wayang Tanah. Gamelan music and Slamet Gundono's songs, interspersed with narration and gamelan music.
Many of the performances use hip hop together with musical conventions, and this music genre requires a detailed description. The most notable example is Catur Kuncoro's Hip Hop. But this combination is also found in Ananto Wicaksono's Raden Saleh and in Eko Nugroho's Bungkusan Hati Di Dalam Kulkas. I have discussed the usage of hip hop in wayang kontemporer in an article in Asian Theatre Journal (Escobar 2014) where I identify five reasons for the appeal of Wayang Hip Hop. One of those reasons is the combination of musical styles from diverse origins. Below, I reproduce the arguments from that article that pertain to the current discussion on the usages of mixed music in wayang performances more generally.
The center of hip hop culture in Indonesia is Yogyakarta, and the popularity and number of hip hop groups should be factored in if we are to understand the context where these hip hop hybrids are appreciated. The oldest and most famous group is Jogja Hip Hop Foundation (JHF), a group that is led by visual-artist-cum-hiphopper Marzuki Mohamad, better known as "Kill the DJ." JHF was formed in 2003 but only achieved national notoriety in 2010. Their song Jogja Tetap Istimewa (Jogja is Still Special) became the unofficial anthem of the struggle against political reforms that intended to turn the Special Region of Yogyakarta (DIY), a semi-independent entity in the Indonesian Republic, into an ordinary province (see Politics). The fame of JHF has been a mixed blessing for many hip hop groups in Yogyakarta. Due to their high profile, more people are aware of Javanese hip hop. On the flip-side, many characteristics of their music, which were not unique to them but shared by many groups, are now commonly recognized as their invention. Therefore, other groups that were working previously with them are now deemed to be mere copycats. However, as I will show in the following paragraphs, the diversity and objectives of the usage of hip hop music in Indonesia is quite wide-ranging. This diversity seems to echo the claims made by international scholarship on hip hop, which often describe it as an essentially malleable genre. Bill Osgerby suggests that it is an example of the way "local audiences actively reconfigure 'global' commodities, images and texts", but he recognizes that the local is a "contested territory, one crossed by a variety of different identities and meanings" (Osgerby 2004: 148, 167).
Mixed usage of music creates hybrid affective atmospheres that induce spectators to feel they are both in a wayang performance and in a popular music concert. To provide an example of this, I will describe the way the musical styles are interwoven in Wayang Hip Hop. There are many ways in which the worlds of tradition and modernity come together in the musical accompaniment of Wayang Hip Hop, but the most notable one is their usage of suluk, or "high poetry", one of the many ways in which songs are used within traditional performances to carry the story forward. In a Wayang Hip Hop show, the Lagu Pembuka (Opening Song) begins with a suluk sung by the dalang in ancient poetic Javanese:
Hide dialogue excerpts
The fragrance of the flowers has spread,
The wind blows and it allows,
The aroma of the gandung flower to be carried away.
Wayang Hip Hop opening song.
This specific suluk is often used after the opening scene of traditional wayang shows; it announces the introduction of the main "problem" or "issue" (perkara) that will drive the performance throughout the night. After the largely formulaic small talk of the first scene is completed, the dalang interrupts the antawacana or dialogue and sings a suluk like the one above to signal the introduction of the main problem.
After this song is over, those at the court discuss the problem that will become the main issue of the night's performance. Therefore, the suluk can be interpreted on different levels. On a narrative level, this easily-recognizable song tells the viewers and listeners that the main problem is about to be introduced. However, the content of the song itself can be understood differently. This particular song suggests that beauty will be spread through the performance. It is indeed a Javanese belief that performances "beautify the world" (memayuning hayuning buwana) in a similar way to flowers. In this sense, it has no direct connection to the narrative of the lakon (story) chosen for the night. A.L. Becker suggests that this is a defining characteristic of Javanese narrative techniques, which do not work in an Aristotelian fashion but rather through intersections between distant echoes from the past (in the form of songs) and the present of the performance being developed. He describes this as the production of "thick texture" which is preferred to what he describes as Aristotelian forward moving plots (Becker 1995: 30-37).
Towards the end of the suluk part of the Lagu Pembuka, an electronic hip-hop beat slowly fades in and it takes over the song completely. The "issue" or reason for the performance is introduced through the next part of the Lagu Pembuka, namely, the chorus (in the Western pop-music sense), which is sung in Indonesian:
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Hey! Come here with us!
And express yourselves with us.
Proud and loving of tradition.
Hip Hop? Yes! Wayang Hip Hop!
Wayang Hip Hop opening song. The chorus begins one minute into the song after the suluk ends.
According to its creators, the objective of Wayang Hip Hop is to make wayang appealing to newer generations of spectators by combining elements from a globalized contemporary youth culture and from the wayang tradition. That which is at stake here is expressed in the song's chorus. The perkara (problem) is therefore introduced in a way which is analogous to the structure of a traditional show; namely, after the suluk described above is sung. This example illustrates the way in which different musical styles converge in meaningful ways as the structure of the song elaborates on Javanese storytelling and musical conventions.
Shortly afterward, there is another verse worth commenting: jika salah, maafkan kami, ini hanya hiburan belaka (if you feel wronged, well please forgive us). This is indicative of a cultural custom, where asking forgiveness for one's mistakes is important. Indeed, when presented with compliments, dalang would sometimes say kula nyuwun pangapunten menawi wonten kelepatan which translates as "forgive me for my mistakes." This, or a similar phrase, could also be uttered before the performance and it is often repeated in written and oral form, in anything from book introductions to expert interviews.
Hip hop lyrics elsewhere in the world are often characterized by a more aggressive attitude, and this apologetic hint might strike some as odd. This difference should alert us to the fact that this is a complex blend of wayang music and Javanese wayang conventions with a "global" genre. The "coolness" of this performance is not entirely an imported feature, but rather the result of combining expressive means with different origins.
Budi Pramono, a classically trained gamelan musician who was involved with Wayang Hip Hop in its early years, now works with his own group, Km 7. This group has been featured in kontemporer performances as well, but they tend to use hip hop less extensively. The best example is Ananto Wicaksono's Raden Saleh, which features a hip hop song based on a poem from the 19th century literary master Ronggowarsito titled Jaman Edan, “Crazy Times.”
Hide dialogue excerpts
Those who forget are the ones who win.
Especially if they forget God.
These are crazy times.
You cannot make a profit if you are not crazy.
In Readen Saleh, after the dalang sings, the hip hop song starts.
Ronggowarsito's description of the crazy times corresponds to the same time in which Raden Saleh lived, the mid-nineteenth century. This song is presented after a dialogue where Raden Saleh tells one of his assistants they are living in crazy times (see Art). This performance also includes narrative songs, which make it comparable to the soundtracks of Nanang Hape (whose work will be described below), since they combine narrative functions of musical theatre with gamelan music.
The Dutch troops went to war marching together. They have colonized my land and crushed the local people. They raised their weapons and killed their enemies. They raised their weapons and destroyed everything. Many local people died but their vigor burned like fire.
Raden Saleh. Music with narrative function, which combines gamelan instruments and electronic beats.
Other performances to be considered here use distinctly new versions of gamelan music. This includes Nanang Hape's Lara Tanpa Liru and Kalimataya. The music in both cases is a selective collection of wayang music and new musical creations.
Lara Tanpa Liru. A modified version of traditional music, combined with additional instruments fades into a newly composed song.
Kalimataya. A new creation based on gamelan.
Kalimataya. A battle with gamelan music.
Some performances combine traditional music with other musical registers and sounds, such as electronic music and everyday sounds - including bicycle sounds and market voices. These performances include Wayang Onthel, Bungkusan Hati Di Dalam Kulkas, and Perseteruan Getah Bening. The experimental music fragment in Perseteruan Getah Bening is followed by another experimental music piece accompanied by keprak rhythms.
Wayang Onthel. gamelan music and bicycle sounds.
Bungkusan Hati Di Dalam Kulkas. Electronic experimental music, urban soundscape and suluk.
Perseteruan Getah Bening. Experimental music combined with a traditional mantra. This fragment is followed by another experimental music piece accompanied by keprak rhythms.
In the last two cases, the music was composed by Yenu Ariendra, who was part of the team that developed Wayang Bocor under the direction of Eko Nugroho. The technical challenge of combining traditional wayang singing and the experimental music was described by Catur Kuncoro in an interview:
The first time I worked with Yenu was in the Yogyakarta Arts Festival in 2009, for something called Wayang Pixel, and it was not easy. The first time I heard his experimental music, my ears hurt and it was hard for me to adapt to those sounds. But then that feeling disappeared because I wanted to learn and understand that language. So for example, there is a specific kind of music that you use for fights in wayang. But Yenu wanted to use recorded voices from people in the markets mixed with a sharp distortion, and he had me sing on top of that. I used a Javanese melody with Indonesian words. That process really allowed me to expand my views and to liberate my mind. So I had to be able to enter Yenu's dimension, his world, as it were. I tried this because I wanted to free up my thoughts. I tried to find a moment in the music that I could hold on to, however clumsily. I found that spot and it became my gendèr. So I could hold on to that and I began to enjoy the music. And then our creation had its own kind of harmony (Escobar: 2014b).
In the preceding paragraphs, I have presented an array of intermedial musical configurations. Classifying them merely as intermedial subsumes many internal differences, so I have opted for greater ontological granularity and considered different types of intermedial adaptations: a soundtrack approach, new interpretations of traditional storytelling, highly personal fusions, hip hop and combinations of gamelan and other elements. Despite their differences, they all craft new affective narratives, afforded by the combination of conventional music and elements from other aural realms.
In the digitally connected, gadget-equipped, urban Indonesia, personal music choices determine an individual sense of identity as much as in any other cosmopolitan location in the world. People carry around portable music players or play music constantly in their laptops as they work, study or surf the web. "Tell me what's on your playlist and I'll tell you who you are" has become one of the hallmarks of postmodern identity formation. The dalang whose work I analyze in this dissertation all have laptops, and phones with music playback capability. They have combined their connoisseurship of gamelan with the knowledge of a wide range of international music. This is similar to the world in which most spectators of wayang kontemporer live. But it differs significantly from the musical worlds in which their forefathers learned about music.
Java has always benefited from musical influences from far away, but the means for the transmission of foreign musical ideas is unprecedented. Identity, in terms of musical choice, is no longer as closely connected to cultural inheritance as it once was. The expression of cultural identity through music is now the result of personal curatorial projects that reflect a multiplicity of artistic and lifestyle ideals. The kontemporer performances that combine gamelan music with other influences reflect on this feature of cultural change. They combine the logic of the playlist and the traditional aspects of karawitan. The resulting musical accompaniment can be best understood as a hybrid affective narrative, where the musical progression still bears the traces of traditional wayang but it also incorporates the affective structures induced by lifestyle music and the logic of the playlist.
Non-conventional music
Very few performances use music that is entirely independent from wayang conventions, and when they do so, they adopt different genres and their respective affective logic. These can be either "soundtracks" or popular music.
The music in many of these cases can be described as a soundtrack and its features make it perhaps more similar to Euro-American musical theatre (or films) than to traditional wayang. The realm of the soundtrack can be compared to non-diegetic music in film (Chion 1994: 73) since the songs are separated from the visual realm of wayang and they are external to the story-world (the diegesis). The music here generates an affective progression that is very different from conventional wayang and its pathet structure. However, these soundtracks help connect the performances to communities of music fans - what I will call the lifestyle music, following Jeremy Wallach (2008). In all these instances, the music was especially composed for the performances, dialogues were often sung, or the songs had narrative purposes. Four performances use music in this way: Catur Kuncoro's Wayang Mitologi, Mirwan Suwarso's Jabang Tetuka and Nano Riantiarno's Sie Jin Kwie and Sie Jin Kwie Kena Fitnah.
The perfect examples of the soundtrack approach are Sie Jin Kwie and Sie Jin Kwie Kena Fitnah, where the music was composed especially for the performances. The songs often convey important information about the plot and the characters' intentions.
An example of songs especially composed to tell the story in Sie Jin Kwie, where one of the main characters explains her plans through singing.
Sie Jin Kwie explains his thoughts through a song in Sie Jin Kwie Kena Fitnah.
Wayang Mitologi's musical accompaniment is a pre-recorded soundtrack that combines rock, electronic music and hip hop composed by Arul Fortis. The following fragment is an exchange between Narendra and Permadi, which is delivered through a mixture of hip hop and electronic music.
NARENDRA. What? You pair of bastards! Don't you dare speak like that!
Wayang Mitologi A dialogue turns into a hip hop exchange.
The music of Mirwan Suwarso's Jabang Tetuka was composed by Hollywood score-writer Deane Ogden – who composed music for films such as The Hit List (2011) and The Sensei (2008). It consists of a combination of rock, string ensembles and percussion music.
Jabang Tetuka. Rock music, electric guitar and percussion accompany the fight scenes of the wayang shows, while the action is portrayed by a combination of actors, puppets and films.
The actors occasionally conveyed their thoughts through songs. The following fragment corresponds to a song where Arimbi describes her feelings upon knowing that her baby, Tetuka, will be taken away from her (see Familial Ties).
Jabang Tetuka. Arimbi's song.
Not all the performances in this category adhere to the 'soundtrack' logic. In Jlitheng Suparman's Wayang Kampung Sebelah, which also makes no use of gamelan music, most of the songs are Javanese pop songs, with influences from dangdut. Although many of these are composed by the dalang himself, the show also contains well-known pieces. The performance I analyze here features two 'guest' performers: puppets representing dangdut singers Rhoma Irama and Inul Daratista, each of whom sings a well-known item from their repertoire.
A song by Minul Dara Tinggi, a puppet that represents Inul Daratista.
The presence of dangdut in this performance is interesting. As Jeremy Wallach notes, this music "represents a refusal of the logic of lifestyle and by extension a rejection of the individualizing logic of global consumer culture" (Wallach 2008: 44). Even the most traditional wayang performances occasionally showcase dangdut guest performers in the gara-gara scene. Dangdut is a genre that can be found in a variety of contexts and which appeals to very different listeners. Wallach suggests this power is due to the fact it "bridges generations, from the smallest child to the oldest grandparent, and the imaginary ideal audience for dangdut is a community without distinctions of class or status" (Wallach 2008: 245). Inul and Rhoma represent the opposite positions of a dangdut controversy that shocked Indonesia in the early 21st century. Rhoma, the creator of dangdut, is a conservative Islam proselytizer. Inul is the most famous proponent of a new kind of dangdut, accompanied by sexy outfits and dances, which was disdained as a perversion of the genre by Rhoma Irama (for a fuller account of the controversy, see Women.)
The lack of agreement of what dangdut should be opens up a space for creative opposition: Beyond the powerful apparatuses that regulate and monitor people's behavior lies an undomesticated space where people can do all sort of things that would be considered unacceptable according to middle class and elite standards of behavior. In dangdut, this is the space of exaggeration and excess, where it is the garishness of your outfit, the teasingly erotic way you swing your hips, the vulgar language you use, or the articulation of social issues that cannot be broached in the public sphere (Weintraub, 2006: 76).
Non-conventional music can feature in a variety of ways. By deleting the traces of traditional music, dalang are able to imagine alternative aural universes that create different affective experiences, by either following the logic of the musical theatre soundtrack or of Indonesian popular music. In all cases, this implies pursuing a different direction in the way the affective realms of wayang change and move. When describing the implications of using hybrid music in a wayang show, I suggested this was a combination of the logic of culturally-inherited musical identities with the possibilities of an individually-tailored musical playlist. Here, the intermedial tradeoff is resolved in the direction of inventiveness and innovation, as the echoes of the long tradition of gamelan music fade in the wake of personal musical agendas. However, these agendas are perhaps not as idiosyncratic as the mixed music performances, since the adoption of soundtracks or dangdut music effectively constitutes a generic logic with a sound world more consistent both in itself and as a strategy for combining with other elements like puppets and actors.