Here’s a fantastic Tembang Sunda recording from 1935. The featured instruments are the zither called kacapi and suling, a bamboo flute. The singer, Nji Raden Hadji Djoeleha, embodies the old style of singing, higher pitched and nasal. The older style also uses different ornamentation, for example, jenghak, the use of the break between chest and head voice which can be heard on this recording.
Tembang Sunda was originally known as Cianjuran, from Cianjur, the court city in west Java. It’s a form of poetic singing that emerged out of several other Sundanese genres, especially pantun, in the early 19th century and was promoted and enjoyed by the aristocracy. The songs glorify Pajajaran, the legendary Hindu kingdom of the 14th and 15th centuries.
The other side of this record can be heard on Ian Nagoski’s “Black Mirror“, released by Dust-to-Digital.
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