Thursday, October 27, 2005

Art & Attractions


wayang Golek is a traditional form of puppetry from Sunda, West Java.
Unlike flat leather shadow puppets, these puppets are made from wood, and being three-dimensional do not use a screen. The puppetts are ornate with colourful costumes, and have moveable arms and head.
The puppetteer sits on the floor behind a low "table" on which the puppetts perform.
The shows are performed for at least six hours during the night, accompanied by gamelan music, with speech and singing to tell the story. This music is quite unlike the traditional court music from Solo, for example, and contains much banter and sound effects!
A wayang golek performance lasts at least six hours during the night, attracting an adult audience of all social classes. These shows might be given to appease the gods, to offer thanks or ask protection for a harvest, or to exorcise evil spirits. They also continue to be performed at circumcision or wedding parties, or at events such as the anniversaries of large businesses. The wayang golek performance becomes a social event around which there may be many stalls selling refreshments and other small items, and the audience come and go as they please, watching or listening from all sides. They particularly enjoy the clown scenes, when much tomfoolery and satire take place.
The stories are usually based on the epic stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the show is only a small part of the whole epic. In Indonesia, people are familiar with the different characters appearing in the stories, which can be recognised by the size, shape, colour and angle of their eyes and nose and the way they walk, talk, sing, dance and fight.


Tembang Sunda is sung poetry, an aristocratic pastime that developed in the 19th century. It is accompanied by zithers and bamboo flute. Typically a suite of tembang Sunda songs begins with several recitative-like songs in free rhythm, and concludes with a metrical piece, imitative of gamelan.
Kacapi are a family of zithers which are to gamelan much as the piano is to the orchestra in Western music. Many gamelan pieces can be played by small chamber groups combining melodic instruments and kacapi. Perhaps its most important role is for accompanying singing.

The kacapi indung is a large boat-shaped zither with 18 brass strings. These are tuned by means of pegs which protrude from the side of the instrument. Fine tuning is achieved by adjusting the 18 pyramid-shaped bridges over which the strings pass. The ends of the kacapi are decorated with large scrolls. Traditionally, a mystical bond is held to exist between the kacapi and its player, sometimes consummated in a formal "marriage" ceremony.

The suling is a bamboo flute, which works on the same principle as a recorder. The air is channeled by a bamboo ring to a small fipple on the underside of the suling. It is around two feet long, with six finger-holes, and a range of some three octaves. A shorter instrument with four holes is played with gamelan degung.


Gamelan degung is a type of gong-chime ensemble found only in Sunda, the mountainous region of West Java. For the Sundanese, gamelan degung is an important expression of their cultural identity, quite different from the gamelan traditions of Java and Bali (which are perhaps better known overseas).

Gamelan degung emerged during the 19th century in the courts of the Sundanese regents, who ruled under the Dutch colonial regime. Since Indonesian Independence in 1945, it has become increasingly widespread among the general populace. Nowadays it is often played at wedding receptions, or as background music. Because of its former aristocratic connections, it is considered more ‘up-market’ than gamelan salendro, the other main type of Sundanese gamelan. While in the courts degung was played exclusively by men, now it has become fashionable for women’s groups to perform.

Gamelan degung is tuned to a pentatonic scale, pelog degung, which approximates to the pitches Ab G Eb Db C. Some pieces use the sorog tuning: Ab G F Db C. The tuning is changed by exchanging the appropriate bars or gong chimes on each instrument.

Gamelan degung music has changed considerably since the time when it was played only in Court. Formerly the repertoire consisted primarily of long, rather austere pieces without singing (a style now called degung klasik). Later, singing was introduced, in repertoire which brought the singer very much to the fore: degung kawih. Pieces were also incorporated from the gamelan salendro repertoire. Gamelan degung has also become the vehicle for arrangements of pop Sunda, Sundanese popular music, which via the cassette industry enjoyed phenomenal commercial success in the late 1980s.

One of tourist attractions among others are:
Mang Ujo's 'angklungs" are well-known for its fine workmanship and exact
tuning of these bamboo musical intruments. His workshop is located in the
villagae of Padasuka, 7 kilometers from the city of Bandung.

Menyebut nama Saung Angklung Ujo (SAU) adalah menyebut sebuah tempat yang menjadi objek wisata yang terkenal di Bandung yang menyuguhkan seni musik angklung. Terletak di kawasan Padasuka, di tepi jalan yang selalu macet, Saung Angklung Ujo tak ubahnya seperti sebuah oase. Sebuah dunia tersendiri yang berbeda di tengah suasana sekelilingnya yang pengap, sebuah Kampoeng Sunda nan sejuk. Bisa disebut bahwa tak ada dalam sehari pun tempat ini sepi dari kunjungan para turis, termasuk turis asing.

Di aula yang cukup besar dan sejuk, mereka tak hanya disuguhi berbagai pertunjukan musik angklung yang dimainkan oleh anak-anak dalam kemasan yang sangat nyunda dan bernuansakan kaulinan lembur. Tapi mereka juga diajak berinteraksi untuk ikut memainkan angklung.

Tempat yang telah menampilkan seni angklung ke berbagai negara serta memperoleh berbagai penghargaan dari dunia internasional ini -- termasuk PATA Gold Award di Jeyu Korea Selatan pada tahun 2004 yang lalu -- memang tak akan pernah lepas dari nama seniman angklung terkenal Ujo Ngalagena (1929-2001). Bersama istrinya, Uum Sumiyati (alm.), Ujo mulai merintis pendirian tempat ini pada tahun 1967.

Konsep pendirian tempat ini lahir dari rasa kecintaan dan keinginan agar seni angklung sebagai tradisional Sunda, bisa menjadi sebuah pertunjukan kesenian yang tak hanya menarik, mendidik, mudah, dan murah, tapi juga bersifat massal dan meriah. Selain itu, dengan melibatkan penduduk sekitar tempat ini pun menjadi bisa menjadi rintisan ke arah usaha yang mandiri dalam bidang pembuatan angklung.

Sepeninggal Ujo dan istrinya, jejak mereka berdua hingga hari ini masih terasa denyutnya. Dipimpin oleh anaknya, Taufik Ujo, di antara berbagai aset ruang seni dan pariwisata yang ada di Bandung, termasuk yang dikelola oleh pemerintah, SAU adalah tempat satu-satunya yang menjadi tujuan para turis untuk menikmati pertunjukan seni tradisonal Sunda. Inilah yang menyebabkan SAU terkesan memonopoli. Jika pun benar namun monopoli itu adalah sesuatu yang tak terhindarkan.